Gramercy Park Block Association
A look back in history

Why is 
commercial activity 
in Gramercy Park? 

Samuel B. Ruggles created Gramercy Park pursuant to an 1831 Indenture as a "private ornamental park." This covenant "restricts use of the park to the neighboring residents of the surrounding lots, and excludes business purposes."

The Trustees are entrusted to enforce the Park rules which prohibit any activities that compromise the private nature of the Park, including parties, events, ceremonies, commercial photography, film shoots, tours, classes, etc.

Due to the special nature of Gramercy Park, there are countless requests for Park access for the above purposes. Since the Trustees of Gramercy Park and 
Gramercy Park Block Association administrative offices are in my apartment, I am the one who receives these requests.


To preserve the integrity of the Park, it has been my responsibility to enforce the Park rules, since without this enforcementthe Park could easily become overrun with commercial activity.


The following is one example of the Park Trustees prohibiting commercial activity in the Park:

Commercial use of the Park by some Institutional Lot Owners compromised Park residents' personal enjoyment of the Park and use of the Park as outlined in 1831 Gramercy Park Indenture 


In 1831, Ruggles thought that all the buildings built on the lots would be strictly residential and did not know Institutional Lot Owner facilities would eventually come onto Gramercy Park.  These institutions include the Gramercy Park Hotel, National Arts Club, The Players, Brotherhood Synagogue, Calvary Church, and the School of Visual Arts residence.


By 2011, many Residential Lot Owners felt that the Park was being used for commercial purposes by some of these Institutional Lot Owners, and as a result their personal enjoyment of the Park was being compromised.


Below are a few examples of what happened when

Institutional Lot Owners brought wedding parties 

into the Park to photograph

  •   Often crowded the park, left the gate open, allowing strangers to enter.
  • Got into confrontations with Park caretakers who had to stop work to monitor these large groups and to try to enforce the Park rules.
  • Brought in video/photography equipment (ladders, tripods, reflectors, lighting equipment, etc) and monopolized use of the Park, often getting angry when resident key holders "interfered" with their commercial photography productions.
  • Hung their equipment on the Park trees and Park ornamental structures.
  • Asked key holders to move so they could take pictures at certain angles and got into altercations with key holders when they refused to move. 
  • Came in with alcoholic beverages and musical instruments
  • Picked flowers, trampled grass and shrubbery
  • Crowded the walkways, often blocking key holders enjoyment of the Park

Residential Lot Owners felt some Institutional Lot Owners 

used the Park for commercial benefit at their expense


Residential Lot Owners felt that when these Institutional Lot Owners charged for catering or events or even membership, and offered access to Gramercy Park as an amenity, they were actually charging for Park access.  This in effect made Gramercy Park a commercial venue, a gated attraction with an admission fee.


Commercial photography compromised the historic nature of Gramercy Park and property rights of Resident Lot Owners

Essentially, Residential Lot Owners felt the commercial use of the Park by these Institutional Lot Owners was unfair and in the end had the effect of materially changing the traditional and historic nature of the Park and consequently the property rights of the Residential Lot Owners.

April 2011 - Lot Owners voted overwhelmingly
 to ban commercial activity in the Park

After months of sharing their views with the Trustees, Gramercy Park Lot Owners voted to prohibit "Commercial photography, filming, videotaping or other commercial
activities" in Gramercy Park.