Monday, February 17, 2014

Gramercy Park, the only one privately-owned park in Manhattan.

Gramercy Park  is one of the only one privately-owned park in Manhatten.  On a map of old farms prepared  in 1853 by Cornelius De Witt, the farm which included what is now Gramercy Park is designated as “Krom Messie". ” Its name is an Anglicized version of "krom moerasje" , Dutch for “little crooked swamp.”
On December 17, 1831 a deed by the real estate developer Samuel Ruggles established the plot of land between 3rd Avenue and Park Avenue South from 18th to 21st Streets as Gramercy Park.  


The fence appeared two years later and the original still stands. The  construction on the surrounding lots did not begin until the 1840s. The park was locked since 1844, the same year its trustees held their first formal meeting .
Gramercy Park is held in common– by the owners of the 39 surrounding structures.
At one time, the park was open to the public on Gramercy Day – which changed yearly, but was often the first Saturday in May. In 2007, the trustees announced that the park would no longer be open for Gramercy Day because it "had turned into a street fair".
The neighborhood was recognized as a historic district in 1966; also in 1966, properties on the east, west and south sides of the park were designated as landmarks.
Two keys are allocated to each of the original lots surrounding the park, and the owners may buy keys for a fee, which was originally $10 per key.


One hundred and fifty years ago, the first keys to the two-acre park  were   made of solid gold. Now they are made from a nickel alloy. Manufactured especially for the Gramercy Park shareholders by Medeco, the key is distinguished by an interesting intangible: It is virtually impossible to duplicate.  The locks are changed yearly.
There were  383   keys manufactured for park users in 2012.  The key costs $350 per year. If you lose a key  you have to pay$1200 for the replacement. Lose it again, and the next one costs $2,000.
The park rules are  very harsh: no dogs, no alcohol, no smoking, no bicycling, no hardball, no lawn furniture, no Frisbees, and   no feeding of any of the birds and squirrels.
The residences with park access are valued 10 percent higher than Gramercy-area properties without it. 
If you are not a resident there few ways for you  get inside the gates.  You can book a room at   the Gramercy Park hotel, which has 12  keys for guests to use. But please remember that the guests of  the Gramercy Park Hotel   are  not allowed into park unless accompanied by hotel staff.
Or you can join the church, synagogue, or one of the arts clubs   (as National Arts Club) that adjoins the park . 
In 2001 the president of the National Arts Club  Aldon James brought about 40 children, mostly minorities, into the park from the nearby school. The trustee  of the parkat the time, Sharen Benenson, called police alleging that the children were trespassing.  The police refused to take action. Later, a suit was filed against the park's administration in Federal Court.  The suit was settled out of court in 2003. Most of the children settled for $36,000 each, while one received $50,000.
 

Read more:
Real Estate from New York Times: That’s Some Key: How Do You Get a Key to Gramercy Park?