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Friday, June 18, 2010

Everything No

On April 4, 2008, I wrote Key Privileges, about Gramercy Park - the city's exclusive private enclave and Manhattan's only private park. Read the story of the park here. That visit was like that of virtually all New York City residents and visitors - from the outside.

Recently, a friend, a regular reader of this website and Gramercy neighborhood resident who lives just off the park, let me know that she was in possession of a rare and highly coveted article - a key to Gramercy Park. The key was loaned to her by a friend who was away for a short time, so time was fleeting and was my window of opportunity. A number of us were invited for the outing, so we decided to meet at an opening at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park South.

The convenient location on the park and a short immersion into the club's historic structure made it the perfect launching point for our excursion into the park. The National Arts Club, which also abuts the Players Club, is housed in one of New York's finest mansions, both a designated New York Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. The building, located at 15 Gramercy Park South, is worthy of a visit itself.

I made a big ceremonial event about the unveiling of the key and the opening of the park gate. Gramercy Park requires a key both to enter and leave. Once inside, we toured the park, spent some time enjoying the extraordinary bucolic ambiance, and alighted on a number of benches for some friendly chatting. See my gallery of photos here.

All of our group was in agreement, however, that although the park's landscaping and natural beauty was quite exquisite, the park itself, with its list of don'ts, was rather boring. In fact, the park is not heavily used.

The list of rules is quite long (see them here). After reading them on our way out and observing a nearby "Please No Pets" sign, one of our group was prompted to comment, "Everything no." A recent immigrant to the USA, we found her outside perspective and slightly broken English to be a charming, succinct, and not altogether inaccurate characterization of the environment. Smiling, I felt compelled to respond, "Yes, everything no..."


Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

"Everything no" is exactly right, Brian. What a tiresome sounding place. A nice touch on the long list of rules is at the very bottom: *Partial list. In other words, the Trustees are free to make up new rules to cover anything that gets their precious noses out of joint. When I first read about Gramercy Park, I was intrigued by its mystery. Now, especially after reading your post, I'm just annoyed by its snootiness. And as with most privileged places, it sounds boring and lifeless.

Vivien said...

Such a "cool" collage and its story! :)

Anonymous said...

The last "comment" on your "Key Privileges" post says it very well.

Those sad rules were new to me. I don't remember them being quite so onerous in the past.


LD said...

Great story and photos. An engaging tale of beauty, fear, and antiquity.

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Ceciel said...

Rule 2 : Keys to the park may not be loaned... I hope at least there were not more than 6 of you (see rule 5 !).
"Children must cooperate": that will take some negociation :-)

ryanyunryan said...

Actually, we have the same kind of rules here at public parks in Germany.

Brian Dubé said...

ryanyunryan - that's why everything does not look super trashed in Germany.

Lily said...

I´m brazilian and last year I visited the park, specially to see Greg Wyatt´s sculpture "Fantasy Fountain" - I´m a big fan - to discover that it was completely covered by the bushes... such a disappointment and lack of respect at his work...