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Gramercy, also called Gramercy Park, is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, focused around Gramercy Park, a private park between East 20th and 21st Streets at the foot of Lexington Avenue. The area is named for a stream which meandered like a 'crooked little knife,' or 'Crom messie' in old Dutch ('Krom mesje').
Roughly speaking, Gramercy is bound by 14th Street, First Avenue, 30th Street, and Broadway. Some consider its northern boundary to be 23rd Street, and consider the area north of 23rd Street to be Rose Hill, though the usage of Rose Hill has never entered the popular lexicon. Others refer to the area north of 23rd Street as Curry Hill. Today, the northern boundary of Gramercy more likely meets the Murray Hill section of Midtown at around 30th Street. To the west is the Flatiron District and Union Square, to the south the East Village, to the east Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, and to the northeast Kips Bay
Gramercy, particularly the area immediately around Gramercy Park itself, is generally perceived to be a quiet area, safer than many other parts of the city. Gramercy Park is a private park, to which only people residing around the park have a key. The public is otherwise only allowed in the park one day a year. The actor James Cagney once lived in one of the buildings on Gramercy Park South (East 20th Street), as did Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. Amanda Peet grew up on the park. Many actors, actresses and artists live in the district including Jimmy Fallon of Saturday Night Live, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, Rufus Wainwright and Amanda Lepore.
The fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez has his studio on Irving Place, and the neighborhood is home to numerous models' apartments from nearby agencies on Broadway.
Gramercy Park was a vision of Samuel B. Ruggles, a developer and advocate of open space. In 1831, he proposed the idea for the park due to the northward growth of Manhattan. Gramercy Park was the once-home of Presidents Theordore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Many famous establishments are situated around Gramercy Park, including the National Arts Club, established 1884 in a Victorian Gothic mansion and originally home to the New York Governor, and The Players Club, established in 1888 by the brother of President Lincoln's assassinator, Edwin Booth. The Club's members included Mark Twain, Arthur Miller, Carol Burnett and Margaret Hamilton. Oscar Wilde lived on East 17th and Irving Place for awhile, next to his interior designer Elsie de Wolfe and her lesbian lover, literary agent Elisabeth Marbury. Marbury and de Wolfe were said to be the most fashionable lesbian couple of Victorian New York.
19th Century brownstones and carriage houses line most of the neighborhood, though the 1920's brought the onset of tenant apartments and sky scrapers to the surrounding area. In the late 19th century, numerous charitable institutions set up on 23rd street, and lead the way for social policy well into the 20th century.
The park and surrounding blocks was designated a historic district in 1966.
The Brotherhood Synogogue, established in 1857, served as an Underground Railroad station before the Civil War.
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