I have been on an imposed vacation for a week now, and am starting week two of three, so I have been spending lots of time not in front of my computer (happily). All of this is to say that I am sorry for not writing sooner. I picked the second apartment I mentioned below - the expensive Gramercy Park one. Even with the crazy price, I have enough of my "allowance" left over that I can buy my car a parking spot in a garage over in Brooklyn, a mere 15-minute subway ride away.
I went to the library and looked for information on the area I'll be living in. The only thing of interest I read was in a book written by Shackleton (not sure if it's the stuck-in-Antarctic ice one or not) in 1917 or so. He praises the park itself, mostly because of the fact that it's surrounded by a heavy iron fence and is only accessible with a key, meaning that the people in the nearby tenements in the East Village can't get in and dirty it up. Sigh. I told my brother-in-law that I want to have lots of guests in for picnics so we can "reclaim the space." We'll play salsa tunes on a boombox and smoke and spit on the ground and drink. There was a suggestion made that I make dozens of copies of the key, mark them as to what they unlock, and leave them around the city. I will neither confirm or deny that I would ever do such a thing.