Saturday, July 2, 2011
Washington Square Park & Washington Memorial Arch
I had no intention of visiting Washington Square Park but such is one benefit of exploring the city on foot. On my way to Peanut Butter & Co Sandwich Shop nearby, I took a pause here to view another of Manhattan's historic squares. Since visiting Manhattan over the years since 1995, I can't actually remember setting foot in this park until today.
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, the park is alive with residents and visitors enjoying the warm summer day. The park grounds has an unsavory history. Originally a marshland and hunting ground, criminals were hung from a large elm tree in the northwest corner until the 1820s. From 1797 until 1926 paupera were buried here and the remains of about 10,000 people rest here in peace. Eventually the city purchased the land making its nine acres the city's largest park in the 1840s. The park today is popular with the students of nearby New York University.
The most striking feature of the park is the Washington Memorial Arch. Originally built in 1889 of wood, plaster and papier mache it commemorates the centenary of George Washington's inauguration as the first president of the United States. Eventually it was replaced by a permanent stone arch that still stands today. The arch measures 30 feet across and 77 feet high and was the gateway to Fifth Avenue when cars passed directly underneath it in the 1950s. The city closed all traffic through the park in 1963.
More info about Washington Square Park at nycgovparks.org. Click HERE for a 360 degree view near the Washington Memorial Arch.