Gramercy Park West

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Gramercy Park by Rafael Chamorro, on Flickr

1 (cor- ner): Built in 1849- 1850, along with its neigh- bor to the south. Home to Dr. Valentine Mott, surgeon who helped reorganize Bellevue Hospital and found NYU's medical school. Gramercy Park West 2 by edenpictures, on Flickr

2: This was the home of Gifford Pinchot, the United States' first professional forester. Pinchot hosted the wedding reception of Benjamin Harrison here on April 6, 1896, when the former president married Mary Scott Dimmick, the recently widowed niece of Harrison's late first wife. A circumnavigation of Gramercy Park 10, Manhattan, 19 Nov. 2008 by PhillipC, on Flickr

3: This and the house to its south were built in 1847 and are attributed to Alexander Jackson Davis, the most prestigious architect of his day. They are noted for their lacy ironwork. Actor John Garfield died of a heart attack at a friends house here on May 21, 1952, at the age of 39. Mayoral Lamps by edenpictures, on Flickr

4: James Harper Sr., found- er of the pub- lishing house Harper & Brothers and former New York mayor, bought this house in 1847. The lamps out front are the traditional symbol of a mayoral residence. Gramercy Park West 7 II by edenpictures, on Flickr

7 (corner): An eight-story condo building from 1930. Actor Julia Roberts has lived here.





Gramercy Park

Gramercy Park West by edenpictures, on Flickr New York City's only sur- viving private park. Named for Crommessie Brook, "Crooked Little Knife" in Dutch. It was purchased by Peter Stuyvesant from the Dutch West India Co. in 1651, and deeded to freed slave Frans Bastiansen in 1674. In 1761, it was acquired by James Duane, later New York's first post-independence mayor; he named it Gramercy Farm. It was bought in 1831 by lawyer and developer Samuel Ruggles, who laid out Gramercy Park.

(Across from No. 2, on January 23, 1911, writer David Graham Phillips was fatally shot by Fitzhugh Coyle Goldsborough, a disturbed young man who was fixated on the idea that one of Phillips' novels had insulted his sister. Goldsborough then shot himself to death here.) 2008-04-11 028 by snapsparkchik, on Flickr

Each owner of the lots surrounding Gramercy Park has a share in the park--and a key to get through the gate. Disputes between key-holders over how best to maintain the park have caused bitter splits in the neighborhood.

Compared to similar parks that are open to the public like Tompkins, Washington and Gramercy Park, Lilies by NotLiz, on Flickr Union squares, Gramercy suffers from a marked lack of energy and life. The neighborhood would benefit greatly from a less restrictive access policy, but it's hard to imagine the residents who own the place giving up the thrill of exclusion.

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What am I missing on Gramercy Park West? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

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