If you’ve ever found yourself strolling along East 20th Street in Midtown Manhattan, then chances are you’ve come across the shimmering oasis that is Gramercy Park.
Appearing like a verdant mirage among the concrete and glass buildings, the lush gardens and towering trees call to New Yorkers like a siren’s call…that is, until you realize the entire park is fenced off and only accessible by a key.
If New York could have a singular word with which to describe it, some of the contenders would be: ambition, crowded and yes, elite. Gramercy Park is a two acre private space that is reserved for residents of the surrounding Gramercy neighborhood who opt to pay a fee in exchange for a key to access the park.
According to TimeOut New York, there are less than 400 keys in existence for Gramercy Park—each one belonging to one one of the homes surrounding the perimeter of the park. While the one percent of New Yorkers can sip their morning cappuccino beneath the shade of a weeping willow, the rest of us can stare longingly from the sidewalks surrounding the park.
On Christmas Eve though, the exclusive gates to Gramercy Park will swing open and allow us mere mortals to enjoy access to nature. The opening of the Gramercy Park is an annual tradition that—according to TimeOut—dates back to the mid-19th century. Carolers will be allowed in to sing under the park’s Christmas tree for one hour, before they are thrown back out into the concrete jungle of Manhattan.