One of my New York City bucket list items got checked off recently was to take a stroll inside Gramercy Park. While I can say with much certainty that there’s no fountains of youth, chocolate filled ponds, or other such exciting features one might expect to find in a locked park in an elite hood, it was still exciting to finally be able to take a peak around.
As the only truly private park in Manhattan, Gramercy Park can be accessed only by key holders. These elite few either rent or own property directly on Gramercy Park (as in, have windows that overlook the park itself), or are members of good standing at the National Arts Club, the Players Club, the Brotherhood Synagogue, or Calvary-St. George’s Church. If none of these apply to you, there is another route in…you can splurge on a stay at Gramercy Park Hotel, and be escorted in and out of the park by hotel staff.
My entry point was a friend who is a member of the National Arts Club. You have to go inside the club to leave your card in exchange for the key…here are a few fun photos I snapped of the Club:
The park has been fenced in since the mid 1830′s, and locked since 1844. The keys are manufactured especially for the Gramercy Park shareholders, and is said to be virtually impossible to duplicate. On top of that, the locks are changed annually, and new keys distributed. If a key gets lost, the holder must pay $1,000 for a replacement, and if it’s lost twice, the replacement fee doubles. Yowzers.
So who lives here now, with special access to this beloved park? A few names you may recognize are Jimmy Fallon, Karl Lagerfeld, Julia Roberts, Uma Thurman, and Rufus Wainwright.