By Carole Klein
“By focusing her attention on a small, seven-square-block enclave on Manhattan’s East Side, Klein … is able to present a kaleidoscopic survey of New York City’s (and America’s) social and artistic life from the 1820s to the outbreak ofWorld War Il…. Written in an anecdote-filled style that keeps the pages turning briskly, this charming and informative book should prove popular not only with Gothamites but also with readers intrigued by cultural history.”
Carole Klein’s Study of Gramercy Park is cast with luminary, visionary, and innovative souls who contributed to the mystique of the Big City from the early neighborhood years of 1820 to 1940. Washington Irving, Stephen Crane, O. Henry, Mark Twain, Henry James, Edith Wharton — the list of Gramercy Park residents over the years is a catalog of achievement and dedication in American arts and culture. Cyrus Field planned the laying of the Atlantic telegraph cable in Gramercy Park; Peter Cooper designed his free university and invented a new steam engine here. Gramercy Park is the home of the Players' Club for actors, originally the residence of Edwin Booth, brother of Lincoln’s assassin, and the National Arts Club, once a major gathering place for America’s leading arts patrons Morgan, Frick, and Bache. Among its celebrated artists were Robert Henri, Daniel Chester French, Cecilia Beaux, and Augustus SaintGaudens. An invitation to the Gramercy Park salon of Elsie De Wolfe, America’s first interior designer, and her lover Bessie Marbury (Oscar Wilde’s American agent), was one of the most coveted of the town.
Sculptors and architects, actors and musicians, writers and dancers thrived on the vitality of the era and the physical beauty and scale of the stately brownstones and serene square. Gramercy Park pays tribute to a remarkable chapter in the nation’s cultural history.
Ms. Klein is the author of Aline, (1979) the biography of Aline Bernstein, a highly successful stage designer and the lover and mentor of Thomas Wolfe; Mothers and Sons (1984), The Myth of the Happy Child (1975), and The Single Parent Experience (1971). More info →
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