For many New Yorkers, a Gramercy Park address is the ultimate status symbol, offering not only the prestige of living in some of the city's oldest and grandest apartment buildings and townhouses, but also a key to Manhattan's only private park: Gramercy Park.
Bounded by 14th and 23rd Streets between First Avenue and Park Avenue South, Gramercy Park -- much of it a historic district -- has remained relatively unchanged for more than a century, and represents one of the earliest achievements of urban planning.
Once swampland, Gramercy Park was settled in 1831 by developer and open-space advocate Samuel B. Ruggles, who laid out a park at the center of his planned development, deeding it to the owners of the surrounding parcels of land. To this day, owners of the 39 buildings serve as trustees for the 2-acre oasis, famed for its impeccable Victorian-style landscaping and bluestone sidewalks. Each owner who pays a $7,500 annual assessment receives two keys to the park.
Dotted with stately 19th-century mansions, brownstones and carriage houses, Gramercy Park is also known for its impressive apartment houses, including 34 Gramercy Park East, a nine-story apartment building constructed in 1883 and the oldest existing cooperative in New York.
With a rich cultural history, Gramercy Park is home to several prominent arts and social clubs, including the Players Club -- founded by 19th century Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth, whose likeness is immortalized in a statue in the center of the park -- and the National Arts Club, housed in Samuel J. Tilden's Victorian gothic mansion. Other important landmarks include Calvary Church on Gramercy Park North; the Brotherhood Synagogue, a former stop on the Underground Railroad; and the Gramercy Park Hotel, built in 1925.
Though Gramercy Park retains its distinctive turn-of-the-century aesthetic, the neighborhood features several important new developments -- most notably, 18 Gramercy Park, a conversion of the former Salvation Army's Parkside Evangeline Residence for Women. Originally built in 1927, the 17-story conversion, designed by Robert A.M. Stern, features 14 full-floor residences.
Gramercy park is widely considered a food Mecca, boasting several of New York's top restaurants such as Danny Meyer's Maialino, a Roman-style trattoria housed in the Gramercy Park Hotel. The neighborhood also offers more casual fare, with restaurants such as Pete's Tavern, dubbed the oldest surviving bar in New York.