A center of Greenwich Village life
NYC Dept. of Park and Recreation
Washington Square Park Photography Project
I have enjoyed the park for over 50 years, hanging precariously from the intricate piping of the playground jungle gym when I was a toddler, watching my children swing gleefully in the mid-70s on newly renovated swing sets, and lobbying vigorously ten years ago for a sanctioned dog run when my old timer was just a puppy. The double decker buses that used to run through the arch on their way downtown exist only in pictures now, but the old men playing chess in the southwest corner seem merely to have changed their clothes.
This historic park, now undergoing re-novation (destruction) by the Parks Department has been a gathering place for the residents of Greenwich Village and visitors from all over the world. It is an icon of the artistic expression and has been the breeding ground for many political ideas of the 20th century. The seeds of the folk and rock music movements of the 1950's and 60's began in this park.
The so-called renovation of this park is destroying its very nature. This is a cookie-cutter design, corporate in style, like the recent renovations in most of our city's parks, and will make the park cold and uninviting, uncomfortable and virtually unusable for the senior citizens of the neighborhood. Five years of community objections and lawsuits have fallen on deaf ears. It is not too late to stop the work and reclaim what is left of a beautiful, inviting and historic park.
So far eleven 80-100 year old trees have been cut down and several more are slated to be killed. The fountain, that was a gift from Central Park in 1854, has been dismantled and will be relocated in front of the arch. When the re-positioning was suggested to the architect, Stanford White (who designed the arch), he declined, saying that the fountain was correctly positioned in the center of the park. (May 2008)
A symbol of community organizing--the residents of Greenwich Village fought for years to stop Robert Moses' plan for a highway through park.