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Thread: Washington Square Park

  1. #16
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TLOZ Link5
    No, they mean the whole park...and the gates will be locked.
    It's a three foot high fence, so how effective can the gates be?

    As a nearby resident, I'm all for it. All of those improvements sound better than what is there now (provided there really aren't locked gates). I just hope it retains some semblance of a good public space during reconstruction, and that this estimation of three years doesn't turn into ten.

  2. #17
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Washington Square Park, Haven for Eccentricity, Is Set to Fall Into Line

    The fountain at Washington Square Park is not in alignment with the arch.
    Under the city's plan for the park, the fountain will be moved.

    Published: May 10, 2005

    Washington Square Park, the scruffy spot with an anything-goes tradition, is about to get a perimeter fence and a lock, courtesy of a Parks Department makeover.

    Today, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to approve a $16 million redesign, the last step before the 9.75-acre park will be altered in its most significant way since Eleanor Roosevelt helped lead the fight to ban automobile traffic from Washington Square in 1959.

    Under the plan, the park's centerpiece fountain would be shifted into precise alignment with the Washington Square Arch as seen from Fifth Avenue. The park's quirky changes in elevation would be leveled off. Two popular dog runs would be moved. Three six-foot-high asphalt mounds, part of an old playground, would be flattened. A large plaza would be replaced by a lawn. And a four-foot-high granite and iron fence would go up along the perimeter, along with gates that would be locked at night.

    "They're sanitizing the park, taking away a lot of its charm and freedom," said Carol Massa, president of the MacDougal Block North Association. "It's overkill."

    Few people disagree that Washington Square needs a face-lift. The fountain leaks, the pathways and pavement are badly cracked and the grass is often not green. But in a park in which there is a vice president in charge of the dog runs, and the asphalt mounds have their own preservation group, change does not go down smoothly, said the parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe.

    "There's a constituency for every little part of the park," he said, "and there are going to be people who are going to be contrarian no matter what."

    The Landmarks Preservation Commission vote will determine only whether the plan violates city landmark laws. The plan has already been approved by the local community board and no further approval is needed. The three-year project could start in late June. Officials say that the work will not disrupt New York University graduations, which take place in the park.

    Despite the community board's approval however, the area's councilman, Alan J. Gerson, said the neighbors, many of whom have only minor complaints about the redesign, continue to have valid criticisms. "There are several areas of concern," said Mr. Gerson, who grew up playing in the park and remembered falling off the monkey bars many times. "I want to ensure the design preserves the character of openness of the park."

    Opinions are nearly unanimous in the neighborhood about the fence: almost no one wants one. Some say it would be far too high; others doesn't want it at all, saying permanent barriers are antithetical to the park's history and character. The Parks Department says that the park now officially closes from midnight to 6 a.m.

    At Washington Square yesterday, parkgoers enjoying the afternoon sun generally thought adding gates was a bad idea.

    "It's a total waste of money," said Erik Foss, 32, owner of Lit, a bar in the East Village. "This city's already so safe as it is. I walk through here at night. All the people that try to sell drugs here at night are cops anyway." You should be able to just walk through - it's a park."

    Erica Roedder, 25, a New York University graduate student in philosophy, said a higher police presence would be preferable to a locked gate. "If I were making the decision I would just have more police monitors and be more aggressive about people who were disruptive," she said. "But keep it open. I have really good memories of coming to Washington Square Park and making out. It's nice for young couples to have a place to go at night."

    The Parks Department said that, other than drug dealing, there is very little crime in Washington Square. The fence, they say, will simply help police enforce the park's curfew and keep dogs from ruining the plants.

    There were some dark mutterings about the intentions of N.Y.U., whose buildings tower over Washington Square, and whose expansion in recent decades has led to ongoing ill will in the area.

    For its part, N.Y.U. denies that it has had any role in the redesign, aside from contributing $1 million and requesting that a dog run not be placed across the street from Bobst Library on Washington Square South. But dog owners have complained that the new dog run would be too close to Washington Square South, and that the shady new site would not allow sufficient sunlight.

    The other significant contributors to the redesign have been the mayor's office, the City Council, the Manhattan borough president's office and the Tisch family, which gave $2.5 million.

    Carol Greiser, a former City Council member who had been instrumental in the effort to ban traffic in the park, said the Parks Department had erred by planning the changes, including hiring architect George Vellonakis, while consulting only a select few in the neighborhood.

    "He's playing musical chairs with everything in the park," Ms. Greiser said about Mr. Vellonakis's design. "He's moving fountains, he's moving dog runs. It should not be a major objective to align the fountain with the arch. What do you need it lined up for?"

    However, Anne-Marie Sumner, president of the Washington Square Association, says she expects her group to formally endorse the plan today.

    Ms. Sumner said she would support the redesign, despite opposing Mr. Vellonakis's plan to do away with Teen Square - a slightly elevated plaza that has been used as a performance space - in favor of grass. The plaza has been the site of the Washington Square Music Festival, which has given free concerts in the park each summer for decades. After the redesign, the festival would play on a temporary stage.

    Peggy Friedman, director of the music festival, said the elimination of a permanent stage would not only harm the quality of performances, but also be a strike against the park's history as a center of free speech.

    "I feel every group that uses the park should have a stage to use," she said.

    And then there is a group called Save the Mounds. The mounds, three decaying asphalt lumps in the park's southwestern corner, had once been part of an "adventure playground" at the park for older children to climb and to sled on. But while other elements of the playground were long ago carted away, the mounds have endured, and efforts to flatten them have elicited cries of alarm.

    The group's spokeswoman, Leonie Haimson, said, "They're the only hills for miles around."

    Johanna Jainchill contributed reporting for this article.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  3. #18
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    Tampa Florida


    Quote Originally Posted by krulltime

    The fountain at Washington Square Park is not in alignment with the arch.
    Under the city's plan for the park, the fountain will be moved.
    Ive Never noticed that. Is it really that big of a deal?

  4. #19

    Default Petanque courts?

    Does anybody have any idea if the Pentanque courts on the south side of the park are going to be included in the new design?

  5. #20


    May 15, 2005
    A Gathering Spot for Beatniks, Then Hippies, Now Defenders of an Open Park


    John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times
    Washington Square Park is officially closed from midnight to 6 a.m., but barriers are not always in place, so people often visit, if only to sleep

    John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times
    Near the Washington Arch at dawn, the park is quiet, but not empty.

    At 5 a.m. yesterday, as the sky began to brighten over Washington Square Park, Schuberto Juan Solis's 21st birthday celebration came to an end. After a night of revelry, he and several friends started back toward New Jersey. "I haven't been out this late in a long time," said David Menaken, one of the friends.

    They were not alone.

    Washington Square Park is officially closed between midnight and 6 a.m. But in the early morning hours yesterday, neighbors, lovers, out-of-towners, marijuana smokers and others claimed sections of the park. Some occupations were short, and ended in the minutes it takes a couple to share a cigarette.

    Other visitors promised they would not be so easily dislodged.

    "They want to take back our park," said a man who called himself Tamali, as he asked passers-by whether they were "shopping." For legal reasons, he said, he would not provide his full name. But he said he was angry about plans to renovate the park, echoing a complaint heard over and over again yesterday.

    "They want to encage it," he said, and predicted a confrontation.

    A planned renovation of Washington Square Park has raised protests from some who see beauty in its imperfections. While there is broad agreement that the park could do with some improvements, a plan to put a four-foot granite and steel fence around the perimeter, complete with lockable gates, has sparked ire.

    The Parks Department says that the complaints about the wall are misplaced. After all, they say, there is already a low fence around the park, and during the hours that the park is officially closed, barriers are supposed to be pulled across entrances.

    But early yesterday, the entrances to the park stayed open, and a light but steady stream of people traveled the square's paths and plazas, having effortlessly crossed the borders between the park and the neighborhood around it.

    The park before sunrise was a lot as it is in daylight, and people here said a wall threatened the possibility of future nights like this.

    "It's a square, it's not a park," said Harry Nance, a retired psychotherapist who was letting his dog, Shadow, run around a park lawn. "It's for music, for arguments, for politics," he said. It needed fixing, he admitted: the sidewalks and public toilets are in disrepair. But, he said, he had been going to the park for 48 years; he used to take his daughter to play there.

    "It doesn't have to be a golf course," he said. "A little topography is interesting."

    Just after midnight, Nine Moses, 27, and her friend Paige Norman, 26, sat on a ledge near a bed of tulips. Ms. Moses, a chef from the Bronx who now lives in Los Angeles, said she was happy to be back in the park.

    "It's just a place to kick it," she said. "A wall would totally kill it." She also opposed plans to line up the fountain in the park with the Washington Arch.

    "Crooked is the way it's supposed to be," she said at about 12:30 a.m. "Change is not always good."

    Then she and Ms. Norman left, to find a shot of tequila in a bar nearby.

    Meanwhile, in a corner of the park near a bank of chess tables, a poker game with a revolving cast of eight men ran on a diet of $20 bills for much of the early morning.

    A dozen people slept on benches and a manic little man in a track suit paced the walkways, soliciting change. At one point, he picked up a trash can and hurled it to the ground.

    Manuela Barbosa sat alone at 1 a.m. with two books she had bought at a nearby stall: the Encyclopedia of Common Diseases and an Italian-American dictionary.

    On occasion, when someone she considered to be too full of himself walked by, she said, "He acts like he owns this place."

    The city, she said, owns the place.

    At 3 a.m., the rats took over, fearlessly crisscrossing the concrete and diving into trash heaps.

    "I've never been here when it was so quiet," said Elise Crombez, a Belgian model, as she sat on the lip of the fountain. "Maybe people that are out on Friday night don't think of these places."

    A woman noticed Ms. Crombez and told her she thought she was beautiful. Ms. Crombez left.

    By 5:15 a.m., the squirrels seemed to take over from rats.

    Half an hour before the park opened again, a man looked for shoppers.

    "How about a nice prepaid phone? Twenty bucks?" There were no takers, but he was undeterred.

    "How about a pair of nice sunglasses?" he asked. "They're Vuarnet."

    At a 5:45 a.m., a young couple unraveled themselves from each other and stood up from the bench where they had spent a comfortable hour. The couple, Megan Brewer and Andrew M. Burgard, had met six hours earlier. They had known each other online for longer. She pointed at Mr. Burgard. "He's a musicologist. It's a made-up major." Mr. Burgard took the ribbing in stride, and said that he focused on Czech music.

    In a few hours, she was to drive to Delaware for a bachelorette party. But now she had other concerns. "Where can we get breakfast?" she asked. Then she turned on her heels and led Mr. Burgard out of Washington Square Park.

    May 15, 2005
    Don't Fence Me In (Too Much)


    Washington Square looking southward in 1953.

    John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times
    The fence at the Northern Dispensary in the West Village that will be the model for the new Washington Square fence.

    WASHINGTON SQUARE, the green heart of Greenwich Village, is a place that people all over the world carry around with them in their minds. It's a small place (less than 10 acres), but it seems to expand as you walk into it. Perhaps this is because something within you gets to expand at the same moment. The Square, even in New York, is a rare spot where, seemingly for a century or more, gravity has been weakened, where rules rest lightly. Attention quickens, wariness can recede, and, by common consent, everybody is assumed - for the time being, at any rate - to be on an equal footing.

    Maybe that's why Washington Square is, by one calculation, "more densely used, per square foot, than any other park in the city." Emily Kies Folpe, who reports this statistic in "It Happened on Washington Square," a thoughtful, encyclopedic history published in 2002, calls the park "a remarkable laboratory for testing the principles of democracy."

    There must be 50 jokes that have the punch line "Well, that's the Village!" These jokes were born of the fact that over 100 years ago Greenwich Village became a place where writers, artists, radicals and outcasts arrived to rub shoulders with both the poor Italian immigrants and African-American families who lived on the south side of the Square and the old-society families on the north side.

    Tolerance, one of New York's most prized characteristics, has consequently become the essence of the Square, but it goes beyond that. Tolerance sounds too passive - it's more than just "Anything goes." There's a sweetness there, a staying alert to the fact that because the mix is always changing, something never before seen could emerge at any moment. A bright, eager flame is kindled within people when they come to Washington Square; I believe it's a flame that's also present at the incandescent core of the Statue of Liberty's torch.

    The city's Department of Parks and Recreation has just announced a $16 million redesign of the park, only the third such redesign in its 180-year history. Because the thing that's most deeply prized about the park is the way people treat one another when they're in it, and because that arrangement has been worked out largely despite City Hall rather than thanks to it, many around the city have been nervous about how the plan would affect the park's traditional spirit.

    The particulars of the plan, the work of George Vellonakis, a landscape architect who has spent more than 20 years with the Parks Department and who is himself a Villager, are straightforward. The park's central fountain would be moved slightly to the east, so that people at the fountain could line up a view north directly through the Washington Arch and straight up Fifth Avenue. The paved plaza around the fountain, which was depressed one and a half feet below ground level during the park's last redesign 35 years ago, would be brought back up to grade level.

    Further, seating would increase by more than a quarter; green space would grow by more than a fifth; there would be a new spider-web-like climbing apparatus for older kids; and there would be a lot more flowers. The low metal-pipe fence around the park (now supplemented by an ugly five-foot-high stand of turkey wire behind it) would be replaced by a four-foot-high wrought-iron fence that could be locked at night.

    After spending much of a day walking through the Square with Mr. Vellonakis, and as a person who grew up and still lives a block from the Square, I'm convinced his plan deserves high - if qualified - praise. The new green space and the extra seats are superb. The fence needs further thought, but it can be remedied, and if it is, the park's life-shaping qualities will remain intact.

    The respect people now show for each other in Washington Square was hard won. Emily Kies Folpe unearthed the fact that 18th-century Englishmen grabbed land in what is now Washington Square from African slaves freed by the Dutch. At least 20,000 bodies are buried under Washington Square - it was a pauper's cemetery and an execution place for three decades before suddenly, in 1826, blossoming as the most fashionable address in the city.

    Since 1826, two struggles have been waged for the soul of the Square, one among people that has focused on exclusiveness versus inclusiveness (early settlers versus newcomers), and one between people in general and traffic.

    In 1870, Boss Tweed, who dominated city politics, upset the existing all-people-no-traffic balance in the Square by plunging a trident-shaped arterial road through the center of the park, linking Fifth Avenue to three streets to the south. The official rationale was that this would relieve traffic on Broadway, but many pointed out that Tweed also controlled the city's street-paving contracts. But Tweed, as he bisected the park, eliminated a tall iron perimeter fence, thereby welcoming, as his commissioners wrote, "the masses who have not the means of frequent access to Central Park."

    In the 1950's, Robert Moses had plans for an even bigger road through the park, but all the groups in the Village by then had enough in common (thanks to the mingling Tweed had inaugurated) to rout Moses so thoroughly that the city actually banned all traffic from the Square. The central fountain was no longer isolated by traffic, and the 1970's redesign celebrated the new freedom from cars by adding the large circular plaza that now laps around the fountain.

    But the 1970's plan didn't remove all the suddenly redundant paved surfaces, it just encouraged people to walk on them. It's a strength of Mr. Vellonakis's plan to seize the chance to banish all remaining traces of Boss Tweed's once-profitable paving. That's where much of the extra green space comes from.

    AND what of the fence? Its purpose, the Parks Department says, is in fact benign - to protect the new plantings rather than to re-exclude people, and to help the police enforce the midnight curfew. Mr. Vellonakis, an observant New Yorker, has copied the most amiable and demure fence in the city, the see-through iron fence around the Northern Dispensary, an early 19th-century free dental clinic in the West Village.

    But it's a funny thing about fences: a fence as high as your hip can feel like a friend, while a fence only a foot or so higher can be experienced as a vicious insult. The Parks Department needs to work with that distinction - and it can pull back on the idea of locked gates. The aluminum stanchions that now get dragged in front of the park's entrances work just fine. Also, the design calls for closing several minor entrances to the park - they should be kept open. It isn't just access that keeps Washington Square going; it's the sense that this access is ungrudging, a birthright.

    One cold night a few years ago, there was a meteor shower. At 4 a.m., my wife, son and I squirmed around the aluminum barriers and lay down on our backs in the bone-dry fountain, along with 200 other people who were staring upward. We all ignored the fact that we were lying on cold concrete and who knows what else, and it was thrilling. Every few minutes a shimmery, green circle would appear high in the sky, streak downward, and vanish. It was the park at its best - and it was after curfew.

    Tony Hiss's latest book, with Christopher Meier, is "H2O: Highlands to Ocean."

  6. #21


    The Parks Department says that the complaints about the wall are misplaced. After all, they say, there is already a low fence around the park, and during the hours that the park is officially closed, barriers are supposed to be pulled across entrances.
    All the parks I can think of have signs posting they are closed at a certain hour. Hudson River Park "closes" at 1AM. I always thought it was a legal point, that the city was somewhat less responsible if something happened to you in a park after it was closed.

  7. #22


    Is dangerous the Washington Square Park in the night?

  8. #23


    No not really, use your common sense is all. Alot of NYU kids during the school year from my experiences. BTw those are some super shots, the one from 1953...superb.

  9. #24

  10. #25


    Parks Dept. Cancels Plan for Gates at Washington Square

    Published: May 18, 2005
    The Parks Department abandoned its plan yesterday to install gates at Washington Square Park after fierce opposition from many Greenwich Village residents who said it would take away from the park's tradition of openness.

    But the Landmarks Preservation Commission did approve the department's plan for a $16 million redesign of the park that will include installing a perimeter fence, shifting the fountain 23 feet to the east to align it with the park's landmark arch, flattening three six-foot-high asphalt mounds that are part of an abandoned playground, and leveling the park's peculiar variations in elevation. A stage used by the Washington Square Music Festival will also be removed.

    The redesign, which is to be done in two phases and should take three years to complete, could start as early as the fall.

    "The gates were clearly a hot-button issue that went beyond the neighborhood," Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said after the commission voted, 7 to 1, in favor of the redesign. "The people have spoken, and we have listened."

    Mr. Benepe said a perimeter fence was needed to keep out dogs that foul the park's landscaping and to help enforce its midnight-to-6 a.m. curfew, which is routinely ignored. He said the city would use police barricades to fill the spaces in the fence where the gates would have been.

    "You can't have a landscaped park without a perimeter fence, or else people will walk through the landscape and soon there is no landscape," Mr. Benepe said.

    The landmarks commission, charged with determining whether the redesign conformed to the neighborhood's historic character, did not consider the height and design of a fence. But Mr. Benepe said it would probably be about four feet tall, and he and commission members said the height and design should be decided within a few weeks. The city Art Commission's approval is also required, but that is not likely to be a problem, Mr. Benepe said.

    Washington Square, one of the city's oldest and busiest parks and very much a part of the Village's iconoclastic tradition, has not had a significant renovation in more than 30 years. During that time, the 9.75-acre park has fallen into disrepair: its pavement is cracked, many benches are broken, and the centerpiece fountain leaks.

    Though the repairs and redesign had won the approval of the local community board and the Washington Square Association, many local residents said they had been left out of the process and complained that the city's proposal was an effort to sanitize one of the city's most open parks.

    "I'm horrified, of course," said Jessie McNab, who has lived in the neighborhood for 45 years, abut the commission's vote.

    City Councilman Alan Jay Gerson, who negotiated with the Parks Department, said he might decide to withhold up to $2 million in Council funds if some elements of the plan were not changed.

    "It is better to wait than to go ahead with a design that will haunt us for years to come," he said.

    The most heated opposition to the redesign came in response to the plan to install a four-foot-high perimeter fence of granite and wrought iron with 12 entrance gates that would be locked at night. There is a three-foot-high pipe rail fence along some sections of the park, and recently some gardens have been surrounded by protective chicken wire. When the park is closed, police officers place temporary barricades at entrances, though the barricades are often moved aside, and even after the park is officially closed at midnight, dog walkers, couples, strollers and the occasional drug dealer can be found there.

    As the landmarks commission deliberated at a public meeting yesterday, a neighborhood resident, Mark Milano, 49, shouted: "No fences. Don't block the park off from the people."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  11. #26
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Nice. That didn't take very long.

  12. #27


    Taking a dog for a walk.

    Washington Square fountain - quenching the morning thirst.

  13. #28
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    NYC - Downtown



    September 18, 2005 --

    A new plan for the controversial redesign of Washington Square Park includes expanded playground space, an elevated performance stage, a refurbished chess area that will host national tournaments and the preservation of the beloved asphalt "mounds."

    But community members are irked the plan calls for the leveling of the sunken area surrounding the fountain and for fences up to four feet tall around and within the park.

    The plan the result of months of negotiations between the Parks Department and City Councilman Alan Gerson does not address some of the most controversial aspects of the city's original $16 million redesign, including its plan to move the fountain 23 feet east so it is in line with the Washington Square Arch.

    "We couldn't come to an agreement on the fountain," said Gerson, noting that he opposed moving it.

    Both Gerson and the city agreed to respect the final decision of the Arts Commission, which has jurisdiction over the historic fountain. "I think punting this issue to the Arts Commission is the fairest way of doing this at this point," Gerson said.

    Still, many community members who heard details of the agreement at a meeting Thursday were critical.

    "The fountain is the heart and soul of Washington Square Park," said Jonathan Greenberg, coordinator of the Open Washington Square Park Coalition. "To not address that is, I think, a big disappointment. I mean, that's not negotiable."

    Under the agreement, the park will have a raised performance stage area, a 7,000-square-foot expansion of the children's park, a play area for preteens, a refurbished chess area that will house U.S. Chess Federation events, and new plantings.

    It will also preserve an area of the park known as "the mounds" three small asphalt hills that kids have played on for years and prohibit any commercial activities in the park.

    Community Board 2's Parks and Waterfront Committee will vote on whether to accept the agreement on Oct. 6. The full board will vote on it later in the month.

  14. #29
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    By all means, renovate the park. But keep the fountain and the plaza it's in the way they are. The fountain was never meant to be symmetrically aligned with the arch; asymmetry is natural and the original intention of the park's planners. Just refurbish that general area with cosmetic changes, but don't do anything to compromise the park's current charms.

  15. #30
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    If they make the changes to the fountain as planned (raise it to the level of the surrounding area, encircle it with grass) it will completely change the nature of the park and remove the current "piazza" environment.

    It will be very "pretty", but is that what this wants to be?

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