Historic public space that forms the lawn of City Hall
George Vellonakis' beautifully landscaped park, with its famous Jacob Wrey Mould Fountain, lies at the front door of City Hall. Its lawn spreads out in undulating waves of greenery, flower beds and magnificent old trees. One of the fascinating things about the park is the story of the rich history of lower Manhattan depicted on a circular tablet at the southern tip of the park, on stone markers throughout and on the surrounding sidewalks.
The colonization of Manhattan by Dutch and English explorers began in lower Manhattan. For years after Henry Hudson sailed into the North River, the life of New York City centered in the area between the commons and Battery Park. The commons was granted by terms of the Dongan Charter of 1686 as a common area for use by the citizens of the city. Over the years, it has been used as a pasture, a parade ground, a place for public executions, the site of an almshouse, a prison, and as a public gathering place in times of conflict and celebration. Today, the Friends of City Hall Park work with city officials to extend the tradition of a city park which belongs to its citizens.
It is a beautiful, quiet haven for a neighborhood which is being overrun by a growing population. The loss of the grand old trees would be the greatest tragedy, in my opinion.
The Friends of City Hall Park, under the leadership of Skip Blumberg, just prevailed on Mr. Castro to help us re-open the pathway between City Hall and the Tweed Building, which had been closed since the 9/11 tragedy. We wait for the day when the path in front of City Hall will again be open to neighborhood residents.