Washington Square Park Highlights | TopView Sightseeing

Washington Square Park

Location: According to Wikipedia, the park is bordered by Washington Square North (Waverly Place east and west of the park), Washington Square East (University Place north of the park), Washington Square South (West 4th Street east and west of the park), and Washington Square West (MacDougal Street north and south of the park).

Pass beneath the Washington Arch—the giant structure marking the Fifth Avenue entrance of Washington Square Park NYC—and you'll find yourself in one of the City's most recognizable public spaces. It's easy to see how it's earned that status. At any given moment, students congregate around the park's fountain; sunbathers lie on its lawn; musicians sit on benches and strum guitars; and canines run gleefully amok in its two dog runs. John Leguizamo is among many with fond memories of performing there. The park is also a haven for some serious chess players, who occupy the tables in its southwest corner. (Play a pickup game but beware of anyone who asks to bet money on the proceedings; they might be hustling you.) In addition, the place is notable for its design elements: black-brick paths and vintage-style streetlights lend the recently renovated park a 19th-century feel, and a majestic bronze statue of Garibaldi adds to the atmosphere.

Washington Square Park New York was once a marsh fed by Minetta Brook located near an Indian village known as Sapokanikan. In 1797 the City’s Common Council acquired the land for use as a "Potter's Field” and for public executions, giving rise to the legend of the "Hangman’s Elm" in the park's northwest corner. Used first as the Washington Military Parade Ground in 1826, Washington Park NYC became a public park in 1827. Following this designation, prominent families, wanting to escape the disease and congestion of downtown Manhattan, moved into the area and built the distinguished Greek Revival mansions that still line the square’s north side. In 1838 the park hosted the first public demonstration of the telegraph by Samuel F.B. Morse.

The marble Washington Arch, designed by noted architect Stanford White, was built between 1890-1892 and replaced a wooden arch erected in 1889 to honor the centennial of the first president’s inauguration. Statues of Washington were later installed on the Arch's north side – 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.

For a glimpse into earlier Greenwich Village life depicted in 19th-century novels like Henry James' Washington Square, step inside the historic redbrick gates of Washington Mews. Originally designated as private farmland, the street housed horse stables until the early 1900s, when they were converted into open and airy studios for the area's thriving art community (painter Edward Hopper lived here until his death in 1967). Located a half-block north of Washington Square between Fifth Avenue and University Place, the street retains much of its original character, with homes draped in ivy and wisteria, weathered cobblestone the length of the lane and historic blue street signs. The gates to Washington Mews are unlocked during the daytime, making a stroll down it feel like a delicious escape into a perfectly preserved past.

To reach Washington Square Park, just hop on our Downtown route and hop off at stop #8 Washington Square Park and you’re right there!


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This page was edited by Steven Thomas