New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, April 04, 2008

Key Privileges

Unless you stay at the Gramercy Park Hotel or are extremely well connected, this is as close as you will get to enjoying Gramercy Park, from this side of the fence. Well known to city residents, Gramercy Park is the only private park in the city. To gain access, one must have a key - these are available only to residents in the buildings surrounding the square, who own the park in common. Although NYC has its share of money and exclusivity, private outdoor space is an anomaly in the city and the park's privacy comes as a surprise to many.
Originally, this park was swampland. The name Gramercy is from the Dutch ''krom moerasje,''for ''little crooked knife.'' In 1831, Samuel Bulkley Ruggles bought and drained the land and divided into 108 lots - the park occupied 42 of the lots, and homes on the remaining 66 (these are the buildings which have keys to the park.) This area was located unfashionably north at the time, so Ruggles built a private park to attract residents and buy properties.
The square is surrounded with magnificent row houses and prewar buildings. The immediate area is rather quiet with only a few business establishments like O'Henrys. The neighborhood, known as Gramercy, is surrounded by tree lined streets. Not far away, however, is the bustling Union Square and the Village to the south.
But I do not pine for access and neither should you. There are many extraordinary parks in the city - Central Park, Prospect Park, Washington Square Park (under construction), Union Square, The Conservatory Garden, Brooklyn and N.Y. Botanic Gardens, Van Cortlandt, Riverside, Carl Schurz, City Hall, et. al. These urban oases dot the city and the privilege of entry requires no key ...

11 comments:

Lucy said...

I remember when I was in school my friend lived in the Evangeline Residence on Gramercy Park, and therefor had access to a key. We spent time in there and she often photographed at night with a 4x5 camera. Now I see how lucky all that was, to be able to be in there at all...

An Honest Man said...

Glasgow also has one or two of these 'private' parks. I wonder how long it will be before a developer makes an offer they can't refuse. Thank goodness for the public parks!

Southern Heart said...

It is a very pretty place, even if a bit exclusive. I love, love that gate!

Therese said...

Central Park is a treat indeed. A few years ago two of my kids and I biked well overtime through the park with a guide for ourselves (no one else showed up)Such a good souvenir but this Gramercy Park what a thing!

Litsa Dremousis said...

New York really does have some of the most gorgeous parks in the world. One of my favorite things to do when I'm in town is get a hot dog at Gray's Papaya and an iced mocha at Joe, then sit outside in Washington Square Park and read and people watch.

Heaven.

b13 said...

My sister owned a ground floor apartment just off of the park. The front of the building was in the movie Moonstruck. I used to enjoy feeding the squirrels at the park. They would gently take nuts right out of your fingers :)

oldmanlincoln said...

This is nice work. I like everything about it -- light color, shadow, texture.

I hope you can visit my brookvilleohiodailyphoto.blogspot.com blog and read about my hospital visit.

Abraham Lincoln in Brookville, Ohio.

Alice said...

i feel the withdrawals starting to set in....

Nathalie in Avignon said...

Have you ever actually seen anyone in there? Do the lucky owners of a key actually use it?

Callafornia said...

As a former resident of the Parkside Evangeline who used our common key to run the gravel track late at night (probably one of the only places one could do so without threat to one's body), I'll let you in on a little secret: Rats live in the bushes. The key that keeps out people, makes it the perfect refuge for the rodents. It always made me smile when people lamented about it's exclusionary beauty.

Jane Rothschild said...

What a shame - a park without people to enjoy it is soulless as Gramercy Park demonstrates. I walk by several times daily and no one is in the park except the very neurotic Arlene Harrison, who has obviously never received any enjoyment from the park, as she is too concerned keeping it exclusive. I felt uncomfortable in the park – frankly like being in a cage with everyone peering in – and not being able to offer it to all those who appreciate nature - so I did not renew my key.
When will Ms Harrison realize real fulfillment comes from sharing not hording? As I said, such a shame……