Washington Square Park
Originally a marsh surrounding Minetta Brook, in the early
years of New York this area was used as a graveyard for
slaves and yellow fever victims, a dueling ground and a place
Near the northwest corner can be found the
Hanging Elm, perhaps the oldest tree in Manhattan.
It's apparently not true that
the Marquis de Lafayette on his 1824 visit to New York
witnessed the festive hanging of 20
highwaymen here, but Rose Butler was hanged here in
1820, the last person in New York State to be
executed for arson. In 1826
it was designated the Washington
Military Parade Grounds, which soon was transformed into a
Washington Square was at one point the center of New York
society--as depicted in
Henry James' novel Washington
Square--later becoming the unofficial quadrangle of
1961 it was the site of protests over a police crackdown on
folksinging, and in 1963, a plan to extend Fifth Avenue through
the park was defeated. The park was relandscaped in 1971
and again -- with great controversy -- starting in 2007, at which time the fountain was
aligned with Fifth Avenue.
In the 1980s, the park was Manhattan's main open-air
marijuana market. Guitar legend David Lee Roth was busted
trying to score pot here in 1993.
This is the park where Jane Fonda wanted to be Barefoot
in the Park; it's also where the skateboarders
beat up a passer-by in Kids. (The real-life skate kids
Washington Square Arch
Designed by Stanford White, it was put up in 1892 to replace
a temporary plaster arch erected in 1889 to commemorate the 100th
anniversary of Washington's
The northern leg of the arch has a sculptural group
by Alexander Stirling Calder depicting
President Washington flanked by Wisdom
and Justice; the southern leg presents
accompanied by Fame and Valor, by Hermon Atkins
sculptures have been plagued by acid rain.
Members of the bohemian Liberal Club, including
artists Marcel Duchamp and
John Sloan, climbed on top of the arch in 1917 to proclaim the
Independent Republic of
Greenwich Village. Buster
Keaton drove a horse-drawn trolley
through the arch in the silent film Speedy; Meg Ryan and
Crystal (looking awfully old for college kids) decide to just
be friends here in When Harry Met Sally.
I once had a date where we ended up under the arch
to get out of the rain, where we kissed until
a pot dealer urged me to take her home.
360 Degree Panorama of Washington Square.