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Home New York City / NYC Washington Square Park at the Center of Greenwich Village, NYC

Washington Square Park at the Center of Greenwich Village, NYC

Washington Square Park

 

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Group of folks (maybe NYU Students?) congregating around the centerpiece fountain in Washington Square Park.
Group of folks (maybe NYU Students?) congregating around the centerpiece fountain in Washington Square Park.

At the center of Greenwich Village is this great park. At the entrance you’ll find the Washington Arch which may be considered to be a replica of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Like many other structures in this city, it was built in celebration of George Washington’s inauguration, about 100 years earlier. Actually, there was originally a wooden arch before this one went up. You’ll see likeness’ of our president within the arch itself. Somehow though, this structure looks alot more impressive at night than it does during the day, ‘don’t ask why……maybe it’s the lighting?….But then, the same might be said of some of our bridges and buildings.

A little known fact about this structure is that it’s hollowed oug. Inside, above the arch, is a chamber lit up by small skylights overhead. It can be reached by way of a dark staircase within the arch’s west pier.

Another tidbit is how its architect, Stanford White, was murdered in 1906 and the trial of Harry K. Thaw held at the Jefferson Market Library. This famous crime was later immortalized in the book Ragtime.

Believe it or not, this land was once a burial ground. Its trees at one time were used as gallows and the the park was later turned into a parade ground until it became an actual city park in 1827.

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The Washington Square Arch at night with us pointing/facing north along fifth avenue from within Washington Square Park.
The Washington Square Arch at night with us pointing/facing north along fifth avenue from within Washington Square Park.

Perhaps one can consider this park to be the crossroads of NYC culture. Here in Greenwich Village you’ll find all sorts. From teenaged/older skateboarders and NYU Students to beatniks, has-beens and wanna-be’s…’and of course there’s everyone else and in between.

The following paragraph describes the park as we remember it from ten years ago. Now much has changed and unfortunately there are fewer performers in the park as well as a narrower range of styles and personalities, if you will,  within the park.

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Overhead extreme perspective photograph of the Washington Arch within Washington Square Park.
Overhead extreme perspective photograph of the Washington Arch within Washington Square Park.

Here you’ll even see every form of dress, and on a good day, just about any shade of hair color. It’s a cool park to chill out, so to speak. ‘It speaks of freedom in the utmost way. That is, if you can imagine that. By the fountain at the center of the park you might even find performers, and maybe even a comedian….On any hot spring/summer day I can guarantee that you’ll see plenty of people hanging around the fountain at the center of the park. Yours truly got to pass by one Sunday afternoon and it was an afternoon well spent. There were entertainers playing guitars, singers and other sorts.

In 1997, our Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, decided to make this park his entrance into a war on drugs in the streets and in our parks. A native New Yorker can even remember the media’s mention of cameras being installed in the park as well as an increase in undercover narcs. ‘Don’t know whatever happened with all of that. Been there more often lately and it’s more beautiful now than ever. In all honesty, I think the park is pretty safe during day and nighttime hours. For both NY natives and out-of-towners, it’s a great little park to wander through, be it weekday or weekend, daytime or early evening.

So be sure to pay it a visit during one of your trips through New York City whether as a tourist, native or newfound resident. ‘Yet another NY gem!

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