New York City is home to over 1,900 public parks, many of which have their own unique histories. Washington Square Park is one of the most historical of the bunch, with a storied background of cultural significance stretching all the way back to 1871. The marble Washington Square Arch is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city and acts as the northern gateway to the park. When our New York City personal injury lawyers are looking to relax in the beautiful outdoors of Greenwich Village, this is one of our favorite places to go. A few of the many reasons why we love Washington Square Park include:
Washington Square Arch
The Washington Square Arch was designed by famous architect Stanford White and built between the years 1890-1892. This striking marble arch replaced a previous wooden arch which was erected in 1889 to commemorate the hundred-year anniversary of George Washington’s presidential inauguration. For over 125 years, this arch has been one of the most famous sights in New York City, and countless locals and tourists pass through it every day while walking through the park. Towering 77 feet high and featuring a variety of intricate carvings, we think this is one of the most beautiful landmarks in New York City.
George Washington and other historical figures are commemorated with various statues and monuments throughout Washington Square Park. Two statues of Washington were installed on the north side of the Arch in the years following its construction: Washington as Commander-in-Chief, Accompanied by Fame and Valor (1916) by Hermon MacNeil and Washington as President, Accompanied by Wisdom and Justice (1918) by Alexander Stirling Calder. Other figures commemorated throughout the park include steel pioneer Alexander Lyman Holley, Italian-nationalist leader Giuseppe Garibaldi, and a commemorative flagpole for the soldiers of World War I.
The central fountain has been a major gathering place since it was moved to the park from Fifth Avenue and 59th Street in the mid-1870s. During hot summer days, kids (and some adults) from throughout the city frolic in this fountain and cool off from the hot, humid NYC summer heat. This is also a popular area for musicians to congregate and entertain visitors, who may choose to throw some coins or dollar bills into opened instrument cases.
The park has four levels of playgrounds, which varying accessibility levels ensuring that children of all abilities have the freedom to play here. These parks were upgraded in the 1990s and petanque courts were build at a teen plaza in the southeast section of the park. A dog run was also added during this time.
For over a century, Washington Square Park has been a popular gathering spot for social movements. This began in 1911, when after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, labor unions began marching here. Bohemians were known to gather here during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the Beat generation of artists, writers, and musicians would frequently meet here during the 1940s and 1950s. The park has acted as a breeding ground for many social, cultural, and creative movements, and continues to be a place of inspiration in the 21st century.