Monday, January 6, 2014

Welcome to Gracie

For the first time in a dozen years, a New York City mayor will be living in Gracie Mansion. Something vanished has returned. Yesterday, in a rare event, Bill de Blasio opened the traditional mayoral residence to the public.

Thousands of New Yorkers with free tickets waited in the cold and rain, but no one seemed to mind. The mood was upbeat and friendly. Everyone seemed--dare I say it?--very happy. The event staffers were happy. The volunteers who handed out cups of hot chocolate were happy. The community relations cops were downright jovial. Security was minimal.

Even under the gray winter sky, there was a lightness in the air. The general feeling was one of welcome and openness. Gemutlichkeit was the word that came to mind--"a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotation of belonging and social acceptance, coziness and unhurry."

The line moved smoothly and, once inside, we wound our way through Gracie, from room to room, past oil paintings, fireplaces, a Christmas tree topped with its own miniature Gracie Mansion. Photographs were permitted. The guards chatted and laughed with the visitors. Docents answered questions. No one pushed. No one was talking on their phones or texting. Everyone seemed rather delighted to be there.

At the end of the tour we emerged into a room where Mayor de Blasio awaited. One by one, he took us under his arm (it's a very long arm). We put our arms around him in return and posed for the photographer. The mayor smiled and chatted, responding to whatever anyone had to say.

And then we were back outside, on the porch and down to the yard, looking at the river. We lingered in the unhurry, in the excited air of a new, unknowable era.

A woman said to her teenage son, "Bill de Blasio is very warm." And when the son asked, "What was Bloomberg like?" the mother answered, "He was, well, he wasn't very warm."

And it seems to me that whatever happens, whatever promises our new mayor keeps or breaks, whatever scandals are to come, whatever inevitable disappointments, there is this--this warmth, this openness, this Gemutlichkeit feeling in the city that simply was not here before, not for many years. And that's something to behold.


Anonymous said...

While it was nice to see the inside of Gracie Mansion from within the winding line-organizing ropes, I wouldn't exactly describe the event as a "tour". More like waiting and waiting for a fleeting photo op with the new mayor. Good hot chocolate and atmostpheric views of Hellsgate while waiting on line outside, though.

Anonymous said...

Merely good pr. Honestly after the fiasco of the swearing in ceremony he can use some.

Mooser said...

No matter what the new mayor brings to NY, your post, Jeremiah, is a pleasure to read. Thanks.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Thank you Mooser!

mch said...

What Mooser said, and I'd add, the PR side of all this aside, Gracie Mansion reminds us that New York has a history. And what history is made, when the proudly Italian-American mayor has a black wife and children! We'll see how it all works out in terms of policy and action -- not just "see," I hope. Go to work. (I call for action from afar, I confess, but my children and their partners in nyc make the "we" feel justified.)

Brandon said...

That's my favorite thing about De Blasio; I'm not naive, I expect more than 50% disappointments from him, but at least he's not this bitter, out-of-touch asshole, you know? He's a genuine person, someone who I believe actually CARES about ALL New Yorkers.

macartney said...

Sunday at Gracie Mansion was one of the best days I've had as a New Yorker (12+ years). Thanks for a beautiful write-up about a beautiful day, Jeremiah.

Also, if his swearing-in was a "fiasco", then the word "fiasco" has no meaning at all. Sheesh.

Rmoney 666 said...

If this ceremony was a "fiasco" then what the hell were City Time, Cathie Black, illegal spying on mosques in NJ, the mishandled blizzard of 2011, massive WTC cost overruns being foisted on the public and they're still not done, unconscionable hikes in stabilized rents and the subway fare-- what are those if not major fiascoes, every single one?? Not to mention all the fiascoes great and small that have been detailed on this blog over the past few years.

At least with the new guy we get a change of pace and a different approach. So sorely needed in these times, in this town.