NYC Parks: Gramercy Park

Gramercy Park is a non-public fenced-in park situated between East 20th Street and East 21st Street in the Manhattan part of NYC. The history of the park is as rich and diversified as the city itself. The area that is now Gramercy Park NY started as swamp land. In 1831, a developer named Samuel B. Ruggles (1800-1881) put forth the concept of a park on the property then owned by James Duane called Gramercy Farm.

Gramercy Park history started with the draining of the swamp land and the creation of parcels of land around what would become the park. First landscaping of the private park began, which was surrounded by a fence erected in 1833 that still exists today, occurred over the next 15 years. Additional planting in 1916 softened the park’s proper and formal design. Gramercy Park Manhattan was opened to Union squaddies in 1863 to express thanks for shielding the park in the Civil War.

Gramercy Park history contains the districts surrounding the park. The Player’s Club and two of NYC’s first flats are among the prominent architectural structures in the area. A statue of 19th century actor Edwin Booth as Hamlet was placed in the park by The Player’s Club in 1916. Lots of the city’s oldest churches are found in the area together with a once Underground Railroad location. A Victorian mansion that once served as a home for former NY governor Samuel J. Tilden. It is also home to a few charity foundations that are also located in the historic areas surrounding the park.

There had been an attempt to run a cable car through Gramercy Park in 1890, though it was defeated by those looking to preserve the park. In 1966, part of the area was designated a historic district. The area encompassing the park was officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. A 4.5 ton bronze sculpture known as Fantasy Fountain was added in 1983. Gramercy remains one of New York’s two privately ran parks, owned by the owners of the encompassing properties as intended by Mr. Ruggles when he first put forth the idea for a park in 1831. Presently, Gramercy is still known for its lush greenery and flowers that bloom in early spring that liven up the park well into the autumn.

The area surrounding the park has held on to its sense of style, frequently compared to London’s West End. Zoning laws mean no building in the area can be built higher than 20 stories tall. However, most buidings in the area are under six stories tall. Gramercy Park Hotel was added to the location in 1925 and remains a popular place for Long Island visitors to stay. A bunch of restaurants and bars known as Irving Place remains a popular place for New York locals and visitors to visit. The history of Gramercy Park is as rich and diversified as the city of New York itself and continues to please all who enjoy the park.

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