Gramercy Park (sometimes
misspelled as Grammercy) is a small, fenced-in
private park in the Gramercy
neighborhood of Manhattan, New York
The park is claimed to be one of only
two remaining private parks in New York City with almost no access
to the public, the other being in Sunnyside Gardens, Queens
Gramercy Park is located between East 20th Street, called Gramercy
Park South at the park, and East 21st Street (Gramercy Park North)
and between Gramercy Park West and Gramercy Park East, two
mid-block streets which are between Park Avenue South
and Third Avenue
. Lexington Avenue, a major north-south thoroughfare on the East Side
of Manhattan, terminates at the northern end of Gramercy Park, and
Place begins at the southern end.
The area which is now Gramercy Park was once in the middle of a
, called by the Dutch settlers Krom
, meaning "little crooked swamp", through which ran
the spring-fed stream Krom Mesje
("little crooked knife"),
which had, over time, carved out a 40-foot deep gully on its way
along what is now 21st Street to the East River at 18th Street.
These original names became corrupted to "Crommessie", which itself
was further corrupted to "Gramercy."
By 1831, when Samuel B.
bought the property
from James Duane
, a descendant of
, it was farmland,
called "Gramercy Farm". To develop the property, Ruggles spent
$180,000 to landscape it, draining the swamp and causing about a
million horsecart loads of earth to be moved. He then laid out
"Gramercy Square", deeding possession of the square to the owners
of the 60 parcels of land he had plotted to surround it, and sought
tax-exempt status for the park, which the Board of Alderman granted
in 1832. The park was fenced in in 1833, but construction on the
surrounding lots did not begin until the 1840s. Ruggles also
brought about the creation by the state legislature of Lexington
Avenue and Irving Place, two new north-south roads laid out between
Third and Fourth Avenues and feeding into his development at the
top and bottom of the park.
In the center of the park is a statue of one of the area's most
famous residents, Edwin Booth
. Booth was
one of the great Shakespearean actors of 19th Century America, as
well as the brother of John Wilkes
, the assassin of Abraham
. His mansion still stands at, "No. 16," and is today the
home of the Players'
In 1966, Gramery Park was designated an historic district.
One of the most significant steam
in New York City occurred near Gramercy Park in
1989, killing two Consolidated
workers and one bystander, and causing damage of several
million dollars to area buildings.
Gramercy Park is held in common as one of the City's two privately
owned parks (Sunnyside Gardens is the other) by the owners of the
surrounding structures, as it has remained since December 31, 1831
– although the park was opened to Union soldiers involved in
putting down the Draft Riots
Residents living in buildings that face the park may buy a key to
the park, which is changed annually. In addition, members
of the Players
Club and the National Arts Club as well as guests of the Gramercy Park
Hotel have key access, as does Calvary
The park was at one time opened to the public on Gramercy Day
(which changed yearly, but was often the first Saturday in May). In
, the Trustees of Gramercy Park announced
that it would no longer open the park on that day, though caroling
in the park on Christmas Eve is expected to continue, but no longer
connected to Calvary Church.
In 2001 a lawsuit against the park's administration was filed in
the Federal Court. The suit involved minority schoolchildren who
had allegedly been asked to leave the park.
In popular culture
- Because of the park's private nature, film companies are not
usually allowed to shoot there. In the film Notting Hill, a famous actress
(played by Julia Roberts) is shown
starring in a film called Gramercy Park, which was also
the name of the production company for Notting Hill.
- The exterior of the park can be seen in the Woody Allen film Manhattan Murder Mystery. The
characters in the film comment on the beauty of the park from a
wine tasting filmed in the National Arts Club. Later in the film
Diane Keaton and Alan Alda walk into the street directly in front
of the park as they try to track a bus route.
- In the 1973 science fiction film Soylent Green, which is set in New York
in 2022, a corrupt New York governor escorts some children into a
tent saying, "This was once called, 'Gramercy Park,' boys. Now it's
the only tree sanctuary in New York."
- Jazz fusion/ rock duo Steely Dan
made mention of this park in "Janie
Runaway", from their 2000 album Two Against Nature: Down in
Tampa the future looked desperate and dark / Now you're the
wonderwaif of Gramercy Park.
- Dutch jazz pianist Michiel
Borstlap owns a record label called "Gramercy Park" and he also
composed a tune with the same name.
- The Industrial Metal band
Deadsy released a song entitled "The Key to
Gramercy Park" on their 2002 album Commencement.
- Artist and Producer of electronic music HMC International
concepts) also released a track with the identical name “The
Key to Gramercy Park” in 2009.
- The popular book, The Luxe by
Anna Godbersen takes place in the
neighborhood around Gramercy Park, and a character in Jack Finney's, Time and Again lives there as
- In The Brownstone House of Nero Wolfe by Ken Darby, the character Archie Goodwin states
that Nero Wolfe's townhouse was actually
on East 22nd Street in the Gramercy Park district rather than the
fictional West 35th street address(es) given in the novels to
protect Wolfe's privacy.
- Several key scenes of Jed
Rubenfeld's 2006 historical thriller The Interpretation of
Murder, which is set in New York in 1909, take place in
the park itself and the houses nearby, where one of the book's main
- In the film The Warriors,
one of the fictional gangs featured is the Gramercy Riffs.
- "Gramercy Park", The New York Times, Editorial,
Sunday, July 3, 1921, p.22. On Gramercy Park's 90th anniversary and
- "Samuel B. Ruggles, Founder Of Gramercy Park", Antiques Digest,
reprinted. Originally published 1921.
- Gramercy Park: An Illustrated History of a New York
Neighborhood by Stephen Garmey, 1984, ISBN 0-917439-00-7.