N, R at 23rd St.; 6 at 23rd St.
A major restoration project—spearheaded by the Madison Square Park Conservancy then completed in 2002—gave this petit, 6.2-acre park a push into modernity. The playground at 25th Street now sports brightly-colored jungle gyms and slides with an onsite monitor in summer. At the other end, a well-used dog run competes for your attention along with the Shake Shack, Danny Meyer's outdoor café serving smallish, L.A.-type burgers, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Grape Crush shakes. In between, a moderately-sized oval lawn and benches shaded by large trees provide a serene retreat for Gramercy locals and workers on lunch breaks. Although a sculpture of 19th century Governor William H. Seward and a rehabilitated fountain make oblique nods to history, this small sanctuary actually does have a rich past. It was the inaugural location of Madison Square Garden and the temporary resting place for the arm of Lady Liberty. (From 1876 to 1882, while money for the statue was being raised, the torch and appendage served as fundraising attractions here in the shadows of the Flatiron Building.)