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Once impenetrable, Google Maps scales walls of NYC’s Gramercy Park

For 183 years, the guardians of New York City’s Gramercy Park have successfully kept it closed to the public, and only those living around the private park are granted access. And since commercial photography on park grounds is forbidden, few have truly seen what the inside of the park looks like – until now. As a consequence of today’s technology, The New York Times reports that now anyone can virtually wander beyond the park’s fences, all thanks to Airbnb, a smartphone, and Google Maps.

No, it’s not because the gatekeepers of Gramercy Park have decided to give people a glimpse of this fortress of a garden through the Internet – photography is still off limits. The 360-degree panorama view on Google Maps were created with the good fortune bestowed onto Shawn Christopher, a computer programmer who visited New York City on his honeymoon in May.

Christopher had rented a room in a Gramercy Park apartment via Airbnb, which included access to the famed park. Realizing he had been given the key to a place not even Robert De Niro or Woody Allen were able to shoot in, Christopher used the Photo Sphere app from Google on his smartphone to document the park, which were then uploaded to Google Maps.

“The Internet is all about sharing knowledge, especially these secret, hidden things,” Christopher told the Times.

Despite having its walls now breached on the Internet, don’t expect the park to be opened up to the public. But Arlene Harrison, the park’s chief steward, told the Times that with smartphones and other technology, there was only so much the park’s trustees could now do to keep it entirely private. Harrison also said that she has no plans to ask Google to remove the images, although Google said it would take them down if asked.