Gramercy Park, a calm, serene, and historic neighborhood is home to New York City’s only private park. Also referred to as Gramercy Historic District, the key to this two-acre park can be yours for an evening stroll or just to relax in its peaceful environs, for an annual fee and an apartment in one of the 39 townhouses in this affluent neighborhood, like the 18 Gramercy Park South, Gramercy 19, and Gramercy Starck among others.
Home to several famous musicians, artists, and hollywood superstars like Julia Roberts - who owns a penthouse here, the German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and sculptor Daniel Chester French who created the seated figure of Lincoln, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. - the real estate in the area soars sky high, understandably.
The beautiful Gramercy Park, full of vibrant blooms and lush landscaping was a once in the middle of a swamp, is hard to believe. A wealthy New York City developer and a strong advocate for open spaces, Samuel B.Ruggles, was the one who proposed the idea for the park and spent $180,000 to landscape the area and turn the swamp into this picturesque park.
Quoted from the New York Times, Charlotte Devree once said “There is nothing else quite like Gramercy Park in the country”. Some of New York City’s first apartment buildings like #34 - which is the oldest co-operative building in the city and #36 designed way back in the late 1800s to early 1900s, are part of this neighborhood. The layout of Gramercy Park, houses the statue of Edwin Booth, the brother of John Wilkes Boothe, and founder of the Player’s Club, at the center of the park. There is also a large sculpture by artist Alexander Calder that is currently on display at the park.
Enclosed by a fence in early 1833, the park is not only popular for its exclusivity, but also for its set of stringent rules like no commercial photography and video, no alcohol, no smoking, residents cannot ride a bicycle, walk their dog, play ball or frisbee, feed the birds and squirrels, and last but not the least, no one is allowed on the parks emerald green lawns. With so many restrictions, a fee of $350 a year for the keys to the huge wrought iron gates, and a $1000 fee for lost keys - this neighborhood still remains one of the most sort after.
The park has been so popular over the years that it has been mentioned in books like John Seymour Woods’s Gramercy Park - A Story of New York, E.B. White’s children’s book Stuart Little, and Bruce Nicolaysen’s The Pirate of Gramercy Park among several others. Gramercy Park has also been the plot of several movies, among which Woody Allen’s film Manhattan Murder Mystery and Julia Roberts starring Notting Hill are the most popular. The area surrounding the park is also known for the famous Gramercy Park Hotel and the restaurants and bars that lineup at Irving Place is a popular hangout among locals here.
With so much of historic significance tied to it, Gramercy Park, is indeed more than just your neighborhood park.