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New York Mayor de Blasio belatedly begins move to Gracie Mansion

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than five months after he was sworn in as mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio is leaving behind his modest Brooklyn home and moving to Gracie Mansion, the mayor's official residence, his wife announced in a blog post on Monday.

Chirlane McCray, de Blasio's wife, wrote that a sewing machine table that used to belong to her mother would be among the first items moved to the 18th-century mansion in Manhattan that hugs the East River.

"Moving is bittersweet, even when excited about the destination," McCray, a poet, activist and former political speechwriter, wrote. "We've lived in our Park Slope home for 14 wonderful years. So many of the moments we cherish took place right here."

Although Park Slope has become one of Brooklyn's most coveted and expensive neighborhoods in recent years, de Blasio's home there with its weathered vinyl siding served as a symbol of his claim that he would be more in touch with the city's less wealthy residents.

Michael Bloomberg, de Blasio's billionaire predecessor, decided to stay put in his grand Upper East Side townhouse for his three terms as mayor, although he increased public access to Gracie Mansion and frequently hosted events there.

De Blasio, a progressive Democrat, ran a populist campaign blaming Bloomberg's policies for the city's increasing economic inequality.

The move will happen through June and July, a spokeswoman for the mayor said, and the mansion will be closed to public tours until September while de Blasio, his wife and their teenage son, Dante, settle in. Their teenage daughter, Chiara, is a student in California.

Asked why the mayor did not move in sooner, Rebecca Katz, the spokeswoman, said: "It's been a busy few months."

Signs of the move began accruing on the sidewalk outside de Blasio's house on Monday afternoon: a bookshelf, some candles and a Christmas tree stand were left out for passersby to take, a sign saying "free" fixed to the fence nearby.

Gracie Mansion was built in 1799 as a private country home, and the yellow-painted wooden structure sits in a park overlooking the East River. Fiorello La Guardia was the first mayor to use it as an official residence after moving there in 1942.

(Additional reporting by Noreen O'Donnell; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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