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Union Square Park

About this listing

A park and popular gathering space that offers a flagship Farmers Market

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : Union Square
Parks and Gardens, Great Places to Shop, Recreation, Gathering Place

Place Matters Profile

On September 11, 2001, New York filled with such overwhelming sorrow that personal rituals of grief spilled out of private lives and homes into public spaces, especially Union Square. Although the square was not an officially designated site for public grieving, it was the farthest south most people could go once the city below Fourteenth Street was closed off. It became the epicenter of the city’s collective mourning. By three in the afternoon of the eleventh, people were inscribing their feelings on sheets of butcher paper, taping up their “Missing” signs. Day after day, people came to stare at the homespun memorials, weep, leave flowers and candles, even demonstrate in peaceful protest.

Protest, grief, and celebration have always found a home in Union Square, where the temperature seems to be a little higher than elsewhere. It started in 1882, when nearly twenty-five thousand workers marched in the first official Labor...

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On The Web

NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation
Union Square Partnership
Union Square Greenmarket


Janet Wells Greene

This area is and has been an important open space in the city. It evolved from a mere intersection (Union Place, called "The Forks") to a park for real estate development in the 1830s and 1840s. In 1854, the opening of the Academy of Music transformed the square in to a theatre district. And in 1882, the country's first Labor Day parade marked the begining of Union Square as a site for political theatre. Marches for women suffrage, against child labor, anti-semitism, facsim, racisim and in favor of unions, Franklin Roosevelt, the Communist Party, May Day, and socialism have crowded these streets.

Today, the greenmarket on the north end of the square is a place where farmers can demonstrate the importance of fresh food in the city and their supporters turn out in droves to buy it.

Open space contributes to the well being of a city. The National Park Service has declared Union Square a national historic site and plaques along the interior of the park tell the stories of events that have taken place there. Most recently, the park was the site of a huge spontaneous memorial and peace demonstration following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The physical features of the Square that matter to me are the space for the greenmarket, and the benches surrounded by historical markers. We are quick to preserve buildings, but we are less able to share our knowledge of the events that took place out of doors.

This is a truly historically significant open space, which should be preserved as a space.

Sandy Brooks

This is a place where much history has happened! ... worker demonstrations on May Day, for example. Also, the Union Square Greenmarket is a wondrous addition for us city dwellers.

Richard Greenwald

Union Square is THE public space for NYC. For generations, it was labor's square -- a space for protest and demonstrations. It has witnessed political and social movements -- unions, civil rights, women/gender, anti-war. Because of its place in history, its singular importance to NYC's past, it is deserving of recognition. Therefore, I am nominating Union Sqaure.

Union Square was the site of most all major social movements/protests in NYC history. Moreover, it was the center of workers' political activity. Its place in the history books is secured. Why shouldn't the physical space be secured as well.

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

The Union Square Greenmarket is the finest farmer's market in New York. Despite this, there is a mistaken notion afoot that the market is not upscale enough for the neighborhood's aspirations. The Greenmarket's aesthetic is the aesthetic we should protect rather than landscape this area or otherwise add fixtures and plants to it that would in any way reduce to say nothing of eliminate the Greenmarket. We have Union Square Park with its beautiful greenery. The vitality of the northern space (the Greenmarket area) is precious. We come here to buy locally grown, seasonal produce. We support agriculture in the region, especially small family farms. We support the growing of a wide variety of produce--more than 40 kinds of apples! Organic produce. There is nothing more glorious than the Greenmarket at the height of the harvest and more comforting than in the dead of winter to find live food, seasonal, locally grown by those who sell it.

Protect a space for small local businesses, small local farmers, responsible agriculture, and healthy eating in this big city. Protect our alternative to the big supermarkets and the big (and frightfully expensive) Whole Foods. What would you rather have? Planters in that space or a vibrant farmer's market? It has taken years to establish the Union Square Farmer's Market. It links the city with the countryside. Take away the market and even more family farms will go under. Take away the market and you'll be reduced to "Delicious" apples shipped from Washington State (perfect and perfectly tasteless) or spend a fortune at Whole Foods for produce shipped from across the continent, while our local farmers go under.

Do not allow this city to become a mall dominated by big corporations and chains. Preserve the distinctive character of New York--that means supporting small business and vitality of our streets and parks, which includes our open farmer's markets. Don't let gentrification and corporate pressure drive out what ordinary New Yorkers value about living here, in New York City, not in the suburbs. Union Square is not Park Avenue. It is a mixed use area and the farmer's market is vital to its vitality.

Keep this space open so that the trucks can park and the farmers can set up their stalls. Let the market grow to fill the entire space around the park. It is a gem.

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