This neighborhood on the east side of Manhattan (between 14th and 23rd Streets, and 1st and Park Avenue South) is centered around, and named after, a small private park, reminiscent of a London garden square and surrounded by beautiful 19th century townhouses. The park's positioning discourages thru-traffic down Lexington Avenue, making the streets in the immediate vicinity feel like an oasis.
The birthplace of President Theodore Roosevelt and the former home of President John F. Kennedy, Samuel B. Ruggles first developed Gramercy Park in 1831, as a calming, open space.
Along with Gramercy Park, another of the area's calmest, greenest spaces, Stuyvesant Park, has been designated as a national landmark. The largest ‘oasis’ in the neighborhood, however, is Madison Square Park, which runs from 23rd to 26th Street, between 5th and Madison Avenues. Surrounding it are a number of New York architectural landmarks. Chief among these the iconic, triangular Flatiron Building, the city’s first skyscraper, and to the east of Madison Square, the Metropolitan Life and New York Life Buildings rise in 1930’s, art deco splendor.
There are plenty of excellent restaurants in Gramercy, as well as New York's oldest surviving saloon, Pete's Tavern (where the celebrated short story writer, O. Henry, reportedly wrote his famous “The Gift of the Magi”). At the southern end of the district lies Union Square, with its shops, bars and famous outdoor Greenmarket, where it continues its still vibrant tradition of playing host to some of New York’s most diverse, young and colorful free spirits!
Celebrated area restaurants include Blue Smoke, that features jazz performances nightly, Friend of a Farmer, Gramercy Tavern, Republic, and Zen Palate. Other pubs and bars include The Old Town Pub, a picture of which used to be in David Letterman’s opening credits, and Veritas, which has a selection of over 3000 wines available to customers.
Other local entertainment options include the off-Broadway theatre, Union Square Theater, Church of the Transfiguration, home of the Episcopalian Actors Guild, The Blender Theater at Gramercy, and a large variety of movie theaters, particularly closer to Union Square. The area also provides such entertaining museum as The Museum of Sex, which, according to the museum’s mission statement, is devoted to “the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality.” Annual festivals in the area include the Urban Noise Autumn Bomb Festival and the Gramercy International Art Fair.
As far as education goes, Gramercy is home to two public high schools, Washington Irving High School and The School of the Future, as well as one public elementary school, PS 40. In addition, there are several CUNY and Baruch College buildings are located in Gramercy.
Local transportation includes the 4, 5, 6, Q, R, and W trains. Additionally, the L line runs along the southern border of the area.
Notable buildings in the area are Gramercy Park Hotel at 7 Lexington Avenue by Ian Schrager and designed by Julian Schnabel, 240 Park Avenue South, Gramercy by Starck at 340 East 23rd Street, W hotel in Union Square, The Grand Madison at 225 Fifth Avenue, 254 Park Avenue South, the latest addition One Madison Park and 145 Lexington Avenue.