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The Key to the City of New York


The first occasion a Key to the City was awarded was on June 27, 1702, when Mayor Philip French executed a “Freedom of the City” for Viscount Edward Cornbury, the Governor of New York and New Jersey at the time.

By the middle 1800s, it became customary to award the “Key to the City” as a direct symbol of the City’s wish that a guest feel free to come and go at will.

The key symbolized free entry during a time when admission into New York City was hampered by many legal restrictions, as well as by walls and locked gates.

General Facts

Presented in velvet-colored boxes that say “Facsimile of key made in 1812 for the door of City Hall, New York,” the keys feature the New York City seal and the Mayor’s name on its shaft.

Each gold-plated key is approximately five inches long and bears resemblance the large skeleton key that currently opens the back door of City Hall.

The key is now purely symbolic – it does not open any locks or doors.

The keys are made by Ashburns Engravers in Lower Manhattan and cost $100 per key.

New York Mets Recipients

August 8, 2007 Starting pitcher Tom Glavine in honor of his 300th career victory.
April 27, 1999 Closer John Franco received a key in honor of his 400th career save.
October 28, 1986 The 1986 New York Mets received keys in honor of their World Series victory.

Full List of Keys to the City awarded by Mayor Bloomberg

February 7, 2012

New York Giants, Super Bowl Champions
November 18, 2011 Regis Philbin
October 14, 2010 Ralph Lauren

June 10, 2010

Anibal Vega Borges, Mayor of Tao Baja, Puerto Rico
November 8, 2009 Curtis Jones, Commander, USS New York
November 8, 2009 New York Yankees, World Series Champions
September 3, 2009 Staten Island South Shore National League Little League Team
June 9, 2009 Guardian Angel Curtis Sliwa
February 9, 2009 Crew and flight attendants of US Air Flight 1549: Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger, III; First Officer Jeffrey B. Skiles; Flight Attendant Sheila Dail; Flight Attendant Doreen Welsh; Flight Attendant Donna Dent
May 6, 2008 Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland of The Police, contributing proceeds of final concert to City’s “Million Trees” program
February 5, 2008

New York Giants, Super Bowl Champions

January 2, 2008 David Letterman
November 8, 2007 Music Legend Fats Domino in honor of his philanthropic efforts in New Orleans
August 16, 2007 Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees, for his 500th career home run
August 8, 2007 Tom Glavine, New York Met, for his 300th career victory
June 4, 2007 Francisco Zayas Seijo, Mayor of Municipio de Ponce, Puerto Rico
Edwin Garcia Feliciano, Mayor of Municipio de Camuy, Puerto Rico
June 8, 2006 Jose Aaron Parga Ojeda, Mayor of Florida, Puerto Rico
Jose A. Santiago Rivera, Mayor of Comerio, Puerto Rico
September 25, 2005

The Dalai Lama

June 8, 2005 Abel Nazario Quinonez, Mayor of Yauco, Puerto Rico
June 8, 2005 Nancy Soderberg, President of the Sister City Program
May 12, 2005 Nelson Mandela
April 27, 2005 Walter Veltroni, Mayor of Rome, Italy
June 13, 2004 Carlos Lopez Rivera, Mayor of Dorado, Puerto Rico
May 10, 2004 Wang Qishan, Mayor of Beijing, China
November 3, 2003 New York City Marathon winners: Martin Lel; Margaret Okayo; Kriege Schabort; Cheri Blauwert; Helene Hines; Bogdan Krol
June 20, 2003 Roger Clemens, New York Yankees, in honor of his 300th career victory
February 6, 2003 Gabor Demzsky, Mayor of Budapest, Hungary
Roberto Salcedo, Mayor of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Jose Maria Alvarez, Mayor of Madrid, Spain
Amos Masondo, Mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa
September 22, 2002 Lieutenant General Daniel O’Neill, Bagram Air Force Base, Afghanistan
February 2, 2002 Olympic Gold Medal Winners Sarah Hughes and Jimmy Shea

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