NEW YORK—Thousands of people lined up on the grounds outside Gracie Mansion Sunday for a handshake and a picture with the city’s new mayor.
Thousands of tickets for the event were snatched up within hours of being posted online. The waiting line snaked through the grounds of the mayoral mansion and into the grand hall.
Standing inside by a fireplace, Mayor Bill de Blasio shook hands and exchanged quick words with people who filed into the room.
“I like the fact that he had an open house,” said Pete Webb, 40, from Manhattan. “I think it was a wonderful symbol for his administration.”
People in the crowd in the waiting room wore top hats, knit hats, and Yankee baseball hats, dress suits, evening dresses, and jeans. Some wore heavy winter boots. Those who opted for shined leather or sneakers may have had more trouble on the icy sidewalks.
“This is the people’s house, so it’s great that he opened it up and he’s welcoming everyone here,” said Carlos Manzano, 47, a former New York State Democratic committeeman for Manhattan’s West Side.
De Blasio and his family have yet to move into the mansion from their current home in Park Slope. The mayor’s daughter, Chiara de Blasio, was escorted by a staffer out of the mansion to a car before the event began. Chirlane McRay, the city’s first lady, and Dante de Blasio, the mayor’s son, were not present.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg chose not to reside at Gracie Mansion, opting for his own residence several blocks away. Bloomberg invested his own money to restore the mansion.
“A new mayor, a new beginning, hopefully,” Nilou Zafar, a New Yorker for 35 years, said after meeting de Blasio. “I’ve been through a lot of mayors and I hope he’s going to be very strong and finish what the other one started.”
An estimated 7,000 people waited for up to two hours for a moment with the city’s newly minted mayor.
“To see all kinds of people, all ranks of people here is really wonderful,” said Nadeige Mars-Francois, director of the patient relations department at Interfaith Medical Center, a hospital the closure of which de Blasio protested against during his mayoral campaign. “I’ve waited two hours so far and I don’t mind because I voted and I volunteered for him and I’m very proud.”
Bloomberg opened Gracie Mansion to the public in 2002. Since then some 50,000 visited it every year. The mansion has also been used for hundreds of events.
It was built in the Federal style in 1799 by Archibald Gracie, a wealthy merchant. Former Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia moved in 1942 and was the first mayor to live in the mansion after it was designated as a mayoral residence.