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Thread: Washington Square Park

  1. #406


    The park looks good.

    If you never saw the original for comparison, I guess the inferior plaza wouldn't be noticed. Many of the incorrectly planted trees have been replaced, but with much younger ones. One of those appears to be teetering on the edge. It'll be a long time until they match the originals.

    Maybe a little too polished, but no overly-watchful Parkies like three years ago:

    People were doing what they wanted to do. Still very Village.

    Nice to see the piano man is there. Was he ever kicked out?

  2. #407
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Washington Square Park Renovations to Wrap Up This Summer

    By Andrea Swalec

    New restrooms and offices are coming to the southern end of Washington Square Park.

    WEST VILLAGE — Construction on Greenwich Village's iconic Washington Square Park began more than five years ago, but the Parks Department says the end is finally in sight.

    Workers are currently completing the restrooms, dog run, play area, new paths and offices on the southern end of the park, Steve Simon, the Parks Department's chief of staff for Manhattan, said at a community meeting Wednesday.

    "We're expecting completion this coming summer," Simon said at a Community Board 2 parks and waterfront meeting.

    The city's map of construction projects gets more specific about when the remaining work in the park will be complete, listing the end date as June 17.

    The massive overhaul of the park that began Dec. 10, 2007 has restored and repositioned the central fountain, improved playgrounds, rebuilt the chess plaza and petanque court, added trees and shrubs, replaced lighting and sidewalks, and more.

    The total projected cost of the renovations was not immediately available.

  3. #408
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    New York City


    "We're expecting completion this coming summer"

    Translation: According to our revised revised schedule we want to get this completed by summer, but due to a inevitable future revision we will definitely finish by Thanksgiving for sure, maybe

  4. #409


    It's spring. The fire hydrants are sprouting.

  5. #410
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    I KNEW they were fungal!

  6. #411
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    NYC Parks is instituting new rules, which will bring performers & musicians into the previously enacted rule regarding expressive matter vendors (material artists).

    Parks Commissioner Castro tried to make the case before the CB2 Parks Committee at a public meeting last night, stating that the rule doesn't mean what it says ("a slight adjustment to the rule will not effect musicians"). Artist activist Robert Lederman countered, claiming that nearly everything Castro stated to the Committee was in contradiction to the actual rules being put into effect.

    Video of Commissioner Castro & Lederman recorded last night:

    Manhattan Park Commissioner Castro 5/1/13

    The New Rule [pdf]:

    Statement of Basis and Purpose

    The purpose of this proposed rule is to:

    Clarify the Department’s original intent that individuals providing entertainment, such as musical performances, juggling, dance, or other performance arts in exchange for a fee or for a donation are considered vendors and that entertainment services and performances are considered expressive matter under the Department’s rules.

    Indicate clearly that vendors of expressive matter, including entertainers, are exempt from permitting requirements of the Department applicable to vendors of goods or services so long as they comply with the Department’s Expressive Matter Vending Rules.

    Address the recent decision in the Matter of New York Skyline, Inc., 94 A.D.3d 23 (1st Dep’t 2012), leave to appeal denied, 2012 N.Y. LEXIS 2019 (Aug. 30, 2012), which held that vendors of tickets to entertainments are exempt from permit requirements of the General Vendors Law, insofar as, without the proposed revisions, that decision could have been construed to similarly exempt entertainers from having to comply with the Department’s Expressive Matter Vending Rules.

    Deleted material is in [brackets]; new text is underlined.

    Section 1. Section 1-02 of Title 56 of the Official Compilation of the Rules of the City of New York is amended to read as follows:

    Expressive Matter. “Expressive matter” means materials or objects with expressive content, such as newspapers, books, or writings, or visual art such as paintings, prints, photography, [or] sculpture, or entertainment.

    § 2. Section 1-05(b) of Title 56 of the Official Compilation of the Rules of the City of New York is amended to read as follows:

    § 1-05

    (b) Unlawful Vending.

    (1) No person in or on any property under the jurisdiction of the Department shall sell, offer for sale, hire, lease or let anything whatsoever, including, but not limited to goods, services, or entertainment, or provide or offer to provide services or items, or entertainment in exchange for a donation (hereinafter “vend”), except under and within the terms of a permit, or except as otherwise provided by law. For the purposes of this entire section, persons who vend as defined herein may be referred to as “vendor” or “vendors.”

  7. #412
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown

    Default Be careful about putting out your hat in WSP ...

    It’s official: Free-range parks performers face fines

    Buskers, jugglers, dancers, rappers and others who play for pay must stay confined to approved areas

    ... Street performers are gearing up to abide by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation’s strict rules for vendors who operate in city parks, which as of May 8 will explicitly apply to them if they ask audiences for funds.

    Since 2010, the city has steered art, book and other “expressive matter” vendors in parks to specific locations: along the curb, away from park furniture like benches and at least 50 feet away from a monument. In Union Square, Battery Park, the High Line and parts of Central Park, they may work only in designated vending areas.

    Now singers, rappers, jugglers, dancers and contortionists — even human statues — will have to join them, if they perform in exchange for a fee or a donation.

    As far as the Parks Department is concerned, the performers have been subject to the rules all along. The new change just makes it official, following a state appellate court decision in early 2012 that found “entertainment” isn’t automatically subject to rules restricting vending.

    “While it was always our intent that the rules include performers and entertainers who seek donations within the definition of a expressive matter vendor, the rules will now state that explicitly,” explained Parks spokesman Phil Abramson.

    But that doesn’t reassure Evans or other performers, who are bracing themselves for a long, expensive summer after a yearlong reprieve. Violations of the vending rules are a misdemeanor, and can result in a fine of up to $1,000.

    Two years ago, when the parks vending rules went into effect, Evans was fined $250 three separate times in less than three months for playing in Washington Square Park and Central Park.

    “The city went on a crackdown on us performing anywhere near the water fountains or statues,” recalls Evans, who has been playing guitar and singing blues for seven years to tourists in the area. “Then after protests for performers and activists they seemed to settle down. Now these new rules are going to start that all up again.”

    Evans anticipates another round of enforcement specifically targeted at entertainers. ...

  8. #413
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Fighting for the Soul of Washington Square Park

    Written by Daniel Fitzsimmons

    Some fear the possibility of the famous park becoming privatized.

    Fans of one of the city’s most iconic parks are concerned that a newly created Washington Square Park Conservancy will exert undue private control over a public space known for its laid-back, gritty atmosphere.

    People who flock to Washington Square Park do so to revel in the pocket of nature in the East Village, for sure, but also to watch unlicensed street performers, take a snooze on a shady bench, engage in people-watching of the most varied order and sometimes sneak sips from brown paper bags or follow plumes of sweet-smelling white smoke. It’s a park for students, drifters, skateboarders, tourists and New Yorkers of all stripes, and many want to keep it that way.

    Historically, when conservancies pop up for NYC parks, the results can be beneficial, but also bring some complaints. A 2010 report by Harvard Law School said that private groups participate in the management of half of the city’s 1,700 public parks.

    According to the study, “This ‘privatization’ has generated criticism. The manager of Central Park, for example, was severely criticized for refusing to allow a protest during the Republican National Convention, and instead protecting the grass of the Great Lawn. Bryant Park’s management similarly has been criticized for commercializing its park by hosting fashion shows to raise revenue.”

    Such conservancies have also been praised as protectors and preservers of public space.

    “Historians have hailed the Central Park Conservancy, for example, as the long-awaited ‘protector’ of the park, and the Wall Street Journal has complimented the renovated Bryant Park as the most ‘urbane’ space in the city.”

    The study says that critics of public space being privately controlled often say conservancies and the like become unresponsive to community needs as they relate to public space, but the study takes the position that frequently, government agencies, like the parks department, are just as unresponsive to such needs.

    According to Cathryn Swan, who runs the Washington Square Park Blog, the founding members of this new conservancy presented their plans to the community as a benign organization seeking to simply spruce up the park. The reality, she claims, is something different.

    “They basically forced, in my opinion, the same model onto Washington Square Park that occurs at all these other parks but tried to camouflage it as these four nice women who just wanted to form a friends group,” said Swan. “But when you look at the 501c3, they’re not the documents of a little friends group.”

    Swan’s referring to the non-profit application the conservancy filed with the IRS, which projects fundraising revenue in the hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in the coming years and includes the ability to award an up to $25,000 bonus for its executive director, who is a parks department employee.

    The conservancy’s bylaws, which were made available to The Villager newspaper and posted on their website, calls for a board of anywhere between three and 25 members who will vote on a wide range of initiatives at the park. The conservancy’s executive director is Sarah Neilson, the parks department’s administrator for Washington Square Park.

    Swan said the community has resisted pressure to form a conservancy at Washington Square Park for the past 12 years, but that this attempt was successful because of the way it was presented to residents and the community board by the four founding members.

    “They may in their minds think they’re insuring the future of Washington Square Park,” said Swan, “but they also have to know what subsequently comes with those conservancies, which is there’s always more commercialization and privatization and private money gets to influence what happens at those parks.”

    A major issue for Swan is the relationship between the parks department and the conservancy. In their pitch to Community Board 2 and residents, founding members Betsey Ely, Gwen Evans, Veronica Bulgari and Justine Leguizamo stated they would have no formal agreement with the parks department, including a crucial licensing agreement whereby the parks department could shift operational and maintenance duties over to the conservancy.

    However, Swan recently obtained emails through a freedom of information request that showed the conservancy’s Evans, in an email to Neilson, saying, “We look forward to agreeing [to] a license agreement with the City. [...] We will make sure that the [conservancy’s] bylaws are changed before the license agreement is executed so that should not be a concern.”

    In an interview with the Villager, the conservancy’s Ely said Evans’ email to the parks department was a joke and taken out of context. Neither Ely nor any other conservancy members responded to requests for comment from Our Town Downtown.

    Swan points to another sign of what she considers the conservancy changing the nature of the park – the city recently decided not to renew licenses for two hot dog vendors that expired at the end of December. Critics of the decision believe it was really made by the conservancy in an effort to attract more cultured – and pricier – food options to the park.

    Geoffrey Croft, President of NYC Park Advocates, said he received calls from angry parks department employees who said Ely made the decision to move the hot dog vendors out of Washington Square Park, contradicting the department’s official stance.

    Phil Abramson, a spokesperson for the parks department, denied this and said, “The parks department is definitely retaining all management and control of Washington Square Park.”

    Like Swan, Croft believes the conservancy could eventually have real power over Washington Square Park backed by its fundraising efforts.

    “I don’t think anyone is against people helping out, as long as that’s what it is,” said Croft. “But generally people don’t get into this without wanting some degree of decision making power.”

  9. #414
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    The Bloombergian model of Private-Public partnership is not a good plan for Washington Square Park. Locals in this area have, for years, stated opposition to any sort of conservancy relationship, where the City grants power of control to what is basically an insular group of monied folks (don't be fooled by claims of "oversight"). Knowing of this intense opposition, the Parks Department stealthily pushed forward this Washington Square Park Conservancy, going so far as to make false presentations to the public at a hearing held last June.

    Documents obtained since that hearing (only made available when blogger and investigator Cathryn Swan filed a Freedom of Information submission) show that those behind this conservancy have their eyes on a big piece of the public sphere at Washington Square Park, another land grab that goes way beyond planting flowers and keeping things tidy. Not surprisingly, NYU is involved -- and is putting up financial support for this privatization of public space.

  10. #415


    I really miss Sunday afternoons at the park.

  11. #416


    Beneath Washington Square, Forgotten Tombs Begin to Yield Their Secrets 11 / 26

    The New York Times
    By DAVID W. DUNLAP10 hrs ago

    © Ángel Franco/The New York Times An archaeologist peers into the first of two subterranean burial vaults, possibly from the early 1800s, that were discovered on Tuesday by workers preparing to lay a water…

    One was named William. Another was 21 years old.
    They may well have worshiped their God at a small Presbyterian church on Cedar Street in Lower Manhattan in the early 1800s, as New York was awakening from its provincial past to become the nation’s premier city.

    When they died, their bodies were placed in six-sided coffins and taken to the northern outskirts of the city, near the corner of Wooster and Sixth Streets. There, in a 27-foot-long underground burial chamber with randomly coursed fieldstone walls and a whitewashed, barrel-vaulted brick ceiling, they were laid to rest behind a locked wooden door. Then they were forgotten.
    Until Tuesday.

    That was when workers under contract with the city’s Department of Design and Construction, preparing to install a new 40-inch steel water main down Washington Square East (Wooster Street), encountered the top of a brick arch about three-and-a-half feet below sidewalk level, and 77 feet south of Washington Square North (Sixth Street).
    Inside, human remains lay scattered around a largely empty space.

    Heavy construction halted and careful excavation began, in consultation with Alyssa Loorya, an archaeologist who had been hired as part of the $9 million water main project, given the archaeological sensitivity of Washington Square Park, two-thirds of which were once a potter’s field.

    A second vault, parallel to the first, was discovered immediately to the south. A stone was removed from its eastern wall. And there was a sight to take the breath away from even the most seasoned urban archaeologist:

    Numerous coffins, perhaps two dozen, covered the floor of the vault. Some were in disarray but others looked to be in a fine state of preservation. Smaller coffins attested poignantly to the burial of children, when it was not uncommon for families to suffer the loss of their youngest members.

    More helpful to historians than anything, perhaps, many of the coffins bore lozenge-shaped ornamental identification plates that will — once they are decipherable — help Ms. Loorya and others put names to the skeletons; and with the names, context; and with context, new stories of old New York.

    Neither vault has been entered except by probing cameras. It is not yet clear whether they will be. “These are the remains of family members,” Feniosky Peña-Mora, the commissioner of the design and construction agency, said during a visit to the site on Friday. “We have to be very respectful.”

    Even through a camera, though, there is much to learn. That is how Ms. Loorya was able to make out the name “William” on one coffin plate and “Aged 21 Y” on another. A third is at a frustratingly oblique angle and yields only “18—.”
    The relatively empty first vault had been encountered once before, 50 years ago, by Consolidated Edison workers. A front-page account in The New York Times described it as a tomb of some sort containing about 25 skeletons.

    A few days later, the city and Con Ed announced that the company would seek a different spot to place a new transformer so that, as The Times put it, the skeletons could “continue their rest.”
    With that, they were forgotten again.

    Mr. Peña-Mora said he learned of this week’s discovery on Tuesday while he was attending a conference in Midtown. Emails began flooding his phone. “Once you have this finding,” he said, “you immediately issue a stop-work order.”
    He said his agency was working with the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection to figure out how to proceed with the water main project in a way that minimally disrupts the burial vaults.

    The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner had also been brought into the case, Mr. Peña-Mora said. “Now it’s CSI.”
    The vaults did not come as a surprise to Joan H. Geismar, an archaeologist, who prepared a detailed assessment of Washington Square Park in 2005 for the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

    By 1826, cemeteries belonging to the Cedar Street and Pearl Street Presbyterian churches were documented in the vicinity, Dr. Geismar wrote. Both were associated with the Scotch Church. The larger of the two plots, she said, belonged to the Cedar Street congregation.

    As it moved uptown over time, the Cedar Street church evolved into what is now the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, at 55th Street.
    “We have a pretty good set of records going back to 1808 in our archives, so odds are we could verify a family or an individual name if necessary,” said Timothy Palmer Curl, a spokesman for the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.

    But the investigation could become more difficult if it follows the line from the Scotch Church, which became the Second Presbyterian Church, at Central Park West and 96th Street. “They did not have records,” Ms. Loorya said.
    For archaeologists and historians, the story of the burial vaults is just beginning.

    Even though he is an engineer, and even though the discovery has delayed his job, Mr. Peña-Mora seems pleased by what he started.
    “What’s fascinating,” he said, “is how, as we build the future of New York, we rediscover its past.”

  12. #417


    I always stay at the Washington Square Hotel when I'm in town, it's a nice handy location plus it's not too far away from my son who lives on Hudson Street.

  13. #418


    Back in the Village at the end of the month, staying for a week at the Washington Square hotel after three weeks in Colorado. Should be fun!

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