Gramercy Park

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Gramercy Park is a small, fenced-in private park in the Gramercy neighborhood of the New York City borough of Manhattan, accessible only to residents of certain townhouses in the area who have keys to the park. It is the only remaining private park in Manhattan.

Gramercy Park is located between East 20th Street and East 21st Street and between Park Avenue South and Third Avenue (although it does not take up the entire block between these two avenues). Lexington Avenue, a major north-south thoroughfare on the East Side of Manhattan, terminates at the northern end of Gramercy Park.

The name "Gramercy" is almost certainly a corruption of the Dutch word "krom mesje," or "little crooked knife," the name of a small brook that flowed along what is now 21st Street. The area was part of Gramercy Farm until 1831, when its owner, Samuel B. Ruggles, donated the property to the city on condition that no commercial enterprise be permitted on the facing streets or in the park proper. To this day, the park contains no amusements, swing sets, snack shops or any other intrusions on its rusticity. It is the oldest private park in the United States. Gramercy Park was originally a swamp. Ruggles bought it from James Duane. In 1966, the park was designated as a historic district.

The center of the park contains a statue of one of the area's most famous residents, Edwin Booth. Booth was one of the great Shakespearean actors of 19th century America, as well as the brother of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. His mansion still stands at number 16, and is today the home of The Players, whose members have access to the park.

Gramercy Park is held in common as the city's last privately owned park by the owners of the surrounding structures, as it has remained since December 31, 1831, although nearby residents may buy visiting privileges today. The park is open to the public on Gramercy Day (which changes yearly, but is often the first Saturday in May).