Courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Collections

Horn’s Hook: Gracie’s Historic Site

The land upon which Gracie Mansion stands is land that has inherited thousands of years of history, beginning first with the Lenape People and continuing on today as a central point of an ever-shifting and growing city. In partnership with the Dutch Culture USA Program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York, Gracie Mansion Conservancy hosts three essays dedicated to illustrating and documenting this history and an introduction to this project written by the late and former Executive Director of Gracie Mansion Conservancy, Paul Gunther.

To learn about the history of this land, click below to learn about the historic site.



1800s style foyer. Marble painted floors with ascending staircase in the back right. A red empire style couch is flush against the right wall. Across from the couch is a fire place.

Image of the Gracie Mansion Foyer. Courtesy of Ryan Lahiff via Gracie Mansion Conservancy.

A Historical Snapshot from the Gracie Mansion Conservancy as part of the Dutch Culture USA program

The site of Gracie Mansion reveals New York City’s history from its First Nation origins through the colonization by the Dutch and English and the birth of the American republic and continuing today with

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This map showing colonial farms in northern Manhattan includes a rectangle labeled “The 10 Lots” (near bottom left) marking the site of Sybout Claessens’s 1646 Hoorn’s Hook bouwerie. From the book by James Riker, Revised History of Harlem (City of New York.) Its Origin and Early Annals… New York: New Harlem Publishing Company, 1904.

Lenape, African, European: The Dutch Genesis of the Gracie Mansion Site

Imagine that it’s a warm summer morning in the year 1660. You are strolling through the Manhattan farm of the carpenter Sybout Claessens and his wife Susanna Jans overlooking the East River, today the site of Gracie Mansion and Carl Schurz Park. Inland to your west stretches a rural landscape

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Archival document. Calligraphy letters one in ink on a browning document.

Courtesy of the New York State Archives. New Netherland. Council. Dutch colonial patents and deeds, 1630-1664. Series A1880. Volume GG.

CONTACT: The Dutch Meet the Wappinger Confederacy at Hell Gate, 1645-1646

Once the Dutch made a pact with the native people of Mannahatta (“island of many hills”), on August 30th, 1645[i], one of those seeking  farmland was Sybolt Claessens (aka “Claesz”), a colonial carpenter. He was granted a tract of land where Gracie Mansion now stands.  While the deed states that it was “given” to him by his friend

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Letter: Jeremias van Rensselaer, Rensselaerswyck, to Jan Baptist van Rensselaer, 20 August [1659].Script letters are written on a disintegrating piece of brown paper.

Letter: Jeremias van Rensselaer, Rensselaerswyck, to Jan Baptist van Rensselaer, 20 August [1659]

Black New Netherland: Enslavement and Freedom in Dutch New York 

On January 21, 1672, Anthonÿ Backers wed Mayken Arta on Stuyvesant’s bowery (originally denoting a plantation or farm, not a specific thoroughfare as later became renowned), located about sixty blocks south of today’s Gracie Mansion site. Their names linked them to one another but also to the history of the place. “Mayken” was the name of one of the first African women to arrive in New Netherland, who as an

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