simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: Key Privileges
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Friday, 4 April 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 ...


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