NY1 got an exclusive tour of the new art and artifacts installed throughout Gracie Mansion, items that are part of an exhibit that draws connections between World War II and what is happening today. Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
At the entrance of the mayor's home, the music is a new rendition of a Dizzy Gillespie classic from 1942.
On the walls, prints of Norman Rockwell's "Four Freedoms," inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt's famous war era speech: Freedom of Speech, of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.
It's part of a new exhibit opening at Gracie Mansion focused on 1942, the first year a mayor lived there. But it's not just about the past.
"There are pieces that speak very directly to the issues that are currently happening politically in this country and around the world."
Issues like immigration, dissent and the conduct of government. So there's leaflet urging repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and drawings by the first artist blacklisted for suspected communist ties.
The city's First Lady Chirlane McCray says she is particularly moved by a painting of refugees from Europe.
"You look at their faces, and you see the despair and the wanting to be somewhere safe."
This is the second exhibit since the de Blasios took up residence in the uptown home. The first was focused on 1799, the year the mansion was built.
In both exhibits, McCray wanted the art to reflect the experiences of a broad set of New Yorkers, not just the wealthy and powerful.
"We want to make this the People's house in terms of its art. We wanted to be inclusive. We wanted to bring New Yorkers in and be able to see how Gracie Mansion grew, how the people who are living in the city contributed to that growth."
So a 1940s television plays a training video for women entering the wartime workforce. And photographs by Gordon Parks show a woman in Harlem and a worker at the Fulton Street fish market.
"I just love the silhouette with the buildings behind him. It really shows you New York beginning to grow up and up and up, but that we still have these laborers who are doing the building," McCray said.
The exhibit also honors the charismatic mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who moved to Gracie in 1942. He can be heard on the radio, as he often was at the time.
"After all it is the municipalities that will have the greatest responsibility in the protective side of civilian defense."
There will be an open house for the new exhibit on Sunday, and New York City residents can enter a lottery for tickets by going to the Gracie Conservancy website. Regular public tours resume Tuesday.