Gramercy park is the only private park in NYC. It also gives its name to the area around it as is clear from the video about both the park and the area. It is a small park, only 2 hectares and people who live around it pay an annual fee for a key to its gate. Private parks of this kind are much more common in London than in NYC, though originally there were others. One was St John’s Park near Trinity Church which is now publically owned.
Located between E 20th St and E 21st Sts it is surrounded by a Historic district set up in 1966. A developer bought the swampy area in 1831 and drained it and then fenced it in 1833. He owned all the land around it and gradually sold lots with private access to the park as a drawcard to buy into the area. The park has survived various attempts to run roads through it and other plans to cut it up and it is now surrounded by historic buildings which are regarded as one of the most cohesive examples of 19th architecture in NYC.
Various notable New Yorkers ahve been born in or lived in houses around the park, the most famous being Thomas Roosevelt, the only President of the United States to have been born in NYC proper. Others are famed actor Edwin Booth, James Cagney, John Steinbeck, Karl Lagerfield and Edith Wharton.
If you are locked out, the idea of having a sneak peek inside is pretty tantalizing. Shawn Christopher, using slightly dubious tactics has now gone into the park, filmed it and posted the video online. Go here Seeing Inside Gramercy Park and you can see the park in all its glory.