Meet the Dolores Umbridge of Gramercy Park

Arlene Harrison
Arlene Harrison (image credit: The Gramercy Park Block Association)

Gramercy Park has long been a favorite curiosity for New Yorkers and tourists alike. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful parts of the city, boasting a rare Old World charm. It’s also the city’s only private park. And while that may sound wonderful for moneyed New Yorker’s (only residents who live on the park and guests of the Gramercy Park Hotel are granted keys) who would prefer their greenery sans vagrants and barbecues, in practice Gramercy Park is a lifeless space. Now, meet Arlene Harrison, the woman who keeps it that way.

Arlene Harrison makes a nice little bundle — roughly $140,000 a year – making sure that Gramercy Park’s quasi-Levitical list of rules is strictly enforced.

Gramercy Park rules (credit NY1)
Gramercy Park rules (credit NY1)

In fact, Harrison even had business cards printed up declaring herself not only the Mayor of Gramercy Park, but the Trustee of Gramercy Park and President of the Gramercy Park Block Association, according to the Village Voice.

And according to an interview on NY1, Harrison is in the park each day by 7, clip board in hand, “checking the bluestone for trip hazards.” Next she plants herself on a park bench looking for trespassers and rule breakers like some kind of Dolores Umbridge wannabe.

Don’t even try and eat a sandwich on the lawn, walk with a group, walk your dog or don “beach attire” – whatever the means – because Harrison will be all over you like wet on paint.

But if just can’t stand to have the velvet rope block your way, there is hope. Once a year on December 24, the gates are opened to the public. Do your worst New York City. [Village Voice]