While on my honeymoon, my wife and I got a key to Gramercy Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gramercy_Park) and uploaded some Google Photo Sphere's to Google Maps. I uploaded the Photo Spheres because I wanted to share a special, beautiful place with the world. Not thinking it was a big deal...it kinda was...

NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/nyregion/peek-in-gramercy-park-key-no-longer-required.html?_r=0 http://www.nytimes.com/times-insider/2014/12/04/sneaking-a-peek-at-a-protected-gramercy-park-view/ Vanity Fair http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2014/12/gramercy-park-360-photo Business Insider http://www.businessinsider.com/inside-18-gramercy-park-via-google-maps-2014-12 and many more....

This has led to a couple of interviews, and friends/family asking a couple of questions, so I thought you might want to ask some too! So Ask Me Anything! I'm also looking for your secret places, those special places that you wish you could share...if only you had a key.

Proof: http://i.imgur.com/1j8NWSd.jpg

Comments: 70 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

supashurume27 karma

Are you the guy from Deadsy?

shawnsblog3 karma

No, though I had seen the video on Google, I never watched it till your comment (so Kudo's).

mangoroom13 karma

How did you actually 'get the key'?

shawnsblog19 karma

I rented (via Airbnb) an apartment on Gramercy Park and the owner had a key to the park. Just attached on the key ring....like any other.

I mention that because I had a reporter ask me if it was gold...I thought that was a silly question until I read that the original keys (Given to Edison, etc) were gold...the question made sense then.

yensid79 karma

Has anyone from Gramercy contacted you to try to find the AirBnB renter?

Also, it sounds like they're pretty accepting of it happening and aren't going to cause any problems or even ask Google to remove the pictures. When you started to find out it was a big deal, were you worried you could get in to some kind of trouble?

shawnsblog14 karma

No, and even if they did, I wouldn't tell them. Additionally I think that'd be horrible PR for them that they were on a witch hunt per se. It wouldn't be hard as (2 of) the Airbnb host had the key to Gramercy Park as a feature on their profile so...

No, I wasn't too worried. It was an accident and I wasn't aware of the policy. While I'm not out to break any rules, I was worried they'd pull the pictures down from Google...while that's no big deal in the scheme of life, I want that opportunity to be open for everyone.

They've been pretty open to the fact that they're there...which I think says a lot for them.

yensid76 karma

There was a quote in one of those articles you posted that said something along the lines of them being almost surprised it hadn't happened before, and how it shows how tight knit they are. It sounds like they don't care about the pictures, they just don't want people always in there taking pictures while others are trying to relax. Cool enough.

shawnsblog4 karma

Yeah, I was very happy with their response. I'd like to go back and take more...but knowing what I know now.... I wouldn't.

chrisxcore193 karma

What exactly do you know now? Lol.

shawnsblog11 karma

Well, I know there is a no photography policy there...so....there's that.

leshake3 karma

I used to live close by and I think the neighborhood has probably changed a lot since the golden key days. I think most people rent at this point so they probably don't care.

shawnsblog1 karma

I would tend to agree, however the Steward is who they have to get an opinion from.

JangSaverem6 karma

Silly op, don't you know that that park is only for rich prople eyes? Us poor folk arnt allowed to see it just in case our existence tarnished how pretty and private it is.

Why do you think this was such a big huff for something so positively absurd?

shawnsblog2 karma

Because it's been controlled.

Honestly, given that now a days (with riots and all), and considering the bars around the area, I very well could see something bad happening if there wasn't a gate.

There's a few schools in the area as well....as much as you might not agree, because of the original concept of the park (being reserved and all), having the gate will preserve it's purpose. HOWEVER, you couldn't preserve it with federal/state funds (you'd have to grant people access to it), so the only other way is the structure they have.

I know you're joking, but in all honesty, that concept (about not being able to view it), is now null and void.

you're welcome.

sofaking5 karma

Things like this fascinate me. The idea of something outside our reach makes it that more interesting. Where as if this was another park inside the city people would just use it as a shortcut to get to the other side.

What are your thoughts on the no photography rule? Did you talk to the other people inside the park while you were in there? Is there more than the one sphere?

shawnsblog2 karma

Yeah, honestly, my wife and I did treat it like a passthrough on some nights back from Times Square, so I understand your thoughts.

no photography I respect the concept, though it's futile in a world of drones, long range lenses, and the like. I imagine if a engineer was so inclined they could take a drone with a rig and fly it in, film, fly it out and no one would know.

As far as other people, the only ones we saw were a jogger (who I waved at), and a couple that as we were walking out asked us to let them out (they were staying at the Hotel and didn't want to call bellhop).

There are three sphere's all total....one center and one on each other side.

flamingboard5 karma

How did you thwart the Gramercy Park yeti?

shawnsblog21 karma

I threw small underprivileged children at it. It couldn't get over the begging, pleading, and asking for help.

krosork5 karma


shawnsblog3 karma

Yeah it was just a regular key, so had I thought about it I could have cloned it. I actually made the joke with my wife that it wouldn't have been to hard to do.

And yeah, Ethics...I was unaware of one policy with the photography, but I know you don't copy a key just to do it.

kilroyishere893 karma

Medeco keys are hard to duplicate. The restaurant I work at has Medeco keys and "do not duplicate" is stamped on them. So you'd have to find a shady locksmith to get it duplicated.

shawnsblog3 karma

Well, there's other ways to copy a key (if you were so inclined)...but I'm not about that.

joemanna5 karma

What kind of key is it? Like a skeleton key? A Kwikset key? An RFID?

shawnsblog5 karma

Like a regular key.

In fact, we tried the apartment key first because we didn't know what key to use.

Clarabella_Bee4 karma

I have a question - have you seen anyone - say, a young woman in her mid twenties, wandering around in a lost fashion? My company is located quite close to the park, and I think she's in there...she's certainly been texting me...her name is Dana, by the way. She's one of our interns.

shawnsblog1 karma

I feel like this is some form of a Ghostbusters joke morph'd into a Gramercy Park joke. But can't place it....

Slow-moving-sloth3 karma

A few times I've stayed in NYC at the Gramercy Park Hotel....as a guest you get access to the park. I've been there and it's not very exciting. The park is very small and also very visible from outside the gates. So what's the big secret? (edited: a word)

shawnsblog1 karma

Honestly....you were there....you wouldn't understand....

Without the teenage angst reversal, the saying is true. People who were nearby meh who "cares". But for the people who might have heard about it, who might have read about it...they care. It lets them touch something "forbidden".

And for the record, the center Sphere has over 30,000 views as of right now....so a couple of people wanted to see it.

trogalicious3 karma

Did you come across any notable visitors while in the park, or feel that you were viewed as an "outsider" while you were there?

shawnsblog19 karma

So, no, no one recognizable. Though while we were there my wife and I kinda were hoping for it. Given Uma Thurman has a key, I suppose it would have been awesome to meet her, but meh I don't have anything special to talk to her about.

Actually the outsider question is a good one. Because I brought it up with my interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review (http://triblive.com/news/editorspicks/7296883-74/park-christopher-gramercy) but it wasn't included...and there's a take on this I suppose.

When we were going into the park, I had the gate open to let my wife in. After she walked through, I started to close the gate behind us and there was an elderly couple there that walked toward the gate like perhaps they'd just get to walk in. sigh I stuttered closing the gate because I'm not the kind of person to tell anyone "no" when it comes to sharing something like this...but I had to, it wasn't just "my park" to grant access to (wish it was). So, I began shutting the gate.

My heart broke. The look on their faces was similar to someone pleading for help...all I could imagine was that they had never gotten to come into the park in the 70 or so years....that perhaps the gentlemen had told his wife "one of these people will let us in, before we die..." click the gate was closed. I could have blocked someone from being able to share a walk in the park with their spouse in their final years....I really wanted to let them in.

While it's not the same, that's why I shared the Spheres...I...I just couldn't keep that all to myself.

Sorry for the diary. Thanks for the question.

XXS_speedo8 karma

You monster.

shawnsblog3 karma

But I did it for science!

Risk_It2 karma

1) Did the AirBnB owner tell you that there is a $1,000 fee for a lost key?

2) Do you know if the owner has had issues with the association because of the pictures? Did the owner complain about the pictures?

shawnsblog3 karma

The Airbnb host didn't inform us to anything. Actually funny story here.

After reserving the location, the host said "Oh wait, that's a holiday weekend, my price is $50 a day more, I can't honor your original price", and I tried to negotiate with them, which didn't work. They had reached a point where they asked me to cancel (which would cost me $), or they cancel (which would open them up to a negative review). At that point I contacted Airbnb and called their attention to this and they mediated and we were able to get the apartment for the original price....one of the host arguments for the increase in price was...

"...it has a key to Gramercy Park!"

OK?! And? I'm from PA, we have parks everywhere (this is before I knew the significance), even if I didn't go to a park, there's wooded area about a block from me....heck, I grew up in the country....a.key.to.a.park....for $100 extra? No thank you.

I'm immensely grateful that Airbnb was able to mediate and find us a resolution...it was an incredible experience.

As far as did the owner having any issues? No, their profile was taken down before the story, so I'm not sure what happened. I don't think the owner even knows what happened.

Thanks for your questions.

Risk_It2 karma

Haha this is great!

May I ask how much was the original price per night?

shawnsblog2 karma

It was $200 a night.

mysticsavage2 karma

For that spot in New York, that's actually reasonable.

shawnsblog1 karma

Very. I was very happy with that :)

radhenshi-2 karma

Are you trying to ruin these special places? Because letting g pete have a map of where they are is how this happens. Why the Fuck would you want everyone knowing where " secret" places are?

shawnsblog6 karma

Because, it brings awareness.

I'm hoping that by sharing these places with people who didn't have access to them will allow further generations to have a different view of things.

In the case of Gramercy, I'm hoping that children/adults now, after seeing this will have a greater appreciation of the park and not just treat it as "Yet another park". Hopefully they'll project that into their own lives and have an appreciation for similar things seeing how preserved this is.

radhenshi-4 karma

You ever hear hope in one hand shit in the other?

One of the reasons these places are special is because people don't know about them, keeping them protected from hoards of people like you.

shawnsblog6 karma

That would work.....except....

It has a Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gramercy_Park), so people obviously do know about it.

It has a really nice hotel that a few people have stayed at (http://www.gramercyparkhotel.com/)

It was already on Google Maps (https://www.google.com/maps/place/Gramercy+Park/@40.7357564,-73.9836623,16z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0x10d29b98839345fe)

I really could go on. Please keep trolling.

webbsurfer-7 karma

Have you gotten any hate mail because you felt entitled?

shawnsblog3 karma

Didn't feel entitled so, no.

CrazyCapitalist-17 karma

Interesting pictures although the Libertarian in me would have a little more respect for the property owners wishes. Thoughts on this?

shawnsblog5 karma

I wasn't aware of the policy before I went in....I knew it was private but wasn't aware of any signs...and honestly, while it had a fence (which is wide gauge), it didn't seem like it was private....until you start digging in.

CrazyCapitalist-7 karma

Just my natural predispositions. And for the downvoters out there, would you have a little more respect if it were a Native American site? I note you don't have a problem with no pictures allowed in Mecca.....

shawnsblog5 karma

You can't take pictures in Mecca? Well, scratch that off my list.

CrazyCapitalist2 karma

Unfortunately no. From what I understand, my Muslim friends who described it to me said it was beautiful.

CrazyCapitalist1 karma

Wow, I guess they changed that policy! Well, it used to be anyway. Either that or my pal lied.

shawnsblog2 karma

Either way, I've haven't seen it to this point, so +1 for your friend!