New York City: Places to Explore

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Gramercy

The haste and hullabaloo of the city calms considerably once you reach the more residential neighborhoods of Gramercy Park to the east. Dignified Gramercy Park, named for its 1831 gated garden square ringed by historic buildings and private clubs, is an early example of the city's best creative urban planning. Even though you can't unpack your picnic in the exclusive residents-only park, pick a spot on the sidewalk in front of the cast-iron gate and gaze upward to take in the beautiful Greek Revival, Italianate, Gothic Revival, and Victorian Gothic buildings—including the Players Club and the National Arts Club, both established to indulge and encourage a passion for the arts—that flank the sides of the park.

Just north of the park is Ian Schrager's cooler-than-cool reincarnation of the Gramercy Park Hotel on Lexington Avenue, with one of the city's best rooftop bars. Indeed, as gorgeous as Gramercy views may be during the day, its nighttime skyline is doubly spectacular. And south of the park, running north-south from 14th is Irving Place, a short street honoring Washington Irving, that feels calm, green, and exclusive, and has a combination of old and new eateries, stores, and architecture. Pete's Tavern on Irving Place since 1864, maintains its claim as the oldest original bar in the city and its reputation as a neighborhood hangout. Two famous writers, O. Henry (Gift of the Magi) and Ludwig Bemelmans (Madeline), were "inspired" here, probably from the amazing eggnog or Pete's House Ale.

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