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..."