The Monsters of Gramercy Park

81 Irving Place

If I had the money, I would live at 81 Irving Place just on principle. Whoever designed this building was my kind of person. A monster kind of person.

Reproductions of the imps of 81 Irving Place are available, I'm sure, in the gargoyle section of your local lawn & garden store. It's easy to see why they're so popular. These smirking little devils wrap around the corner of the building, hunching along at eye level like a gang of New York street urchins watching and waiting for mischief to happen their way.

Look up now. This place is just encrusted with medallions and spouts and balcony supports- all covered with monsters. Come around the corner onto 19th Street and walk along the length of the building to the alleyway between 81 Irving and 119 E. 19th. The gargoyles on the rest of the building are clearly reminiscent of classic European building guardians, but the figures carved over this alleyway are something else entirely. If anybody out there knows what the story is behind these hobo/ creepy carny guys, please let me know.

119 East 19th Street

Not as showy as its neighbor, 81 Irving, this little building tucked away on a shady Gramercy area side street is home to a pair of winged gargoyles and a row of expressively carved heads. I am partial to the older gentleman in the center (not pictured).

34 Gramercy Park East

(not pictured) This beautiful Victorian brownstone is gloomy Gotham gothic at its best. One glance from across the street and I just knew some kind of creatures had to be calling this place home. And indeed, there are bands of lovely carved heads and cherubs set in a sort of mixed floral relief. Unfortunately, they are set several stories up and it takes a bit of neck craning to do them justice. If no one is around and you are feeling bold, go on up the steps and peek into the lobby. Great mosaic tile work on the floors. They don't make buildings like this anymore.

36 Gramercy Park East

This building, with it's churchy white stone and extensive carving, is a real standout even in Gramercy Park. While I find this one a bit overdone (maybe it's the pair of silver knights in front of the entrance), cherub lovers will be pleased with the dozens of chubby putti scaling up and down the building front. 36 Gramercy Park East is also the nesting place of a few winged waterspouts up at the top.

Neighborhood Notes: Monster hunting can be thirsty work. They have a nice honey porter on tap at Pete's Tavern on Irving, and there are plenty of chic and trendy restaurants along the avenues. Gramercy is a nice neighborhood to stroll through. I'd give you my impressions of the park itself, but I've never been inside. It's the only remaining key park in New York. Oh well! Try another of the Monster Walks.

© 2003 Amelia Wilson. All rights reserved.