The Skeletons of Washington Square Park

by cathryn on March 5, 2008


Washington Square Park “Renovation”
(note: fountain entirely torn up now; trees gone.)

Washington Square Park first came into being as a Park in the 1850′s. It was a Potter’s field (a “common” burial ground) from 1797-1825. It is believed that up to 20,000 people were buried there (and are still there) from that time period.

In mid-to-late January of this year, while excavating the park during their “renovation,” City workers found at least 4 intact skeletons and 70-80 human bones.

Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner William Castro asserted previously to the community in front of local Community Board 2 – to address concerns about precisely this issue – that the Parks Department would not be digging more than 1-3 feet deep. The city then proceeded to dig from 7 to 11 feet below grade.

The City told the Associated Press in January that the bones would be “analyzed” and “reburied respectfully.”

NYC 24 blog has a new story about the bones resurfacing in Washington Square Park.

And, of course, digging up skeletons can have many meanings. Skeletons ‘of our past’ means interfering with the historical and emotional center of our beings — which is exactly what New York City is attempting to do with their excavation of Washington Square Park.

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As a new blog, word of mouth is very important. We’d like to thank Patti Smith for linking to our site. She asks, “What is happening to OUR Washington Square Park?”

 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin March 6, 2008 at 12:47 am

Not that I am looking for a mention, but I wanted to let you know that I just now added a link to this blog on my NY blog. Thanks for keeping me up to date!

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Donald Jenner March 8, 2008 at 2:42 pm

One recalls, this was the site of a major burial of epidemic victims. Would it not be truly poetic justice if the Park-Nazi technologists got themselves nicely infected with a disease lying dormant for a century or so, passed it along to co-workers and family?…

And the Dwarf of City Hall, Boss Bloomberg himself, would be the responsible one, along with his buddies Adrian “I’m Robert Moses” Benepe and Henry “Cut the Socialist Crap” Stern.

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R. Wolff January 9, 2013 at 1:09 am

That certainly is a risk opening such tombs and graves, there are things like tuberculoisis and other that can stay dormant for long periods.
Wierd thing is that 25 body tomb on the East side that some utility workers punched a hole in thinking it was an abandoned pipe or somesuch, how the heck does a 25 body tomb/crypt etc get LOST in the first place to the extent no one knew it was there???

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cathryn January 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Hi R., I’m not aware of the 25 body tomb discovered on the East Side. Good question re: getting lost. Probably from long ago. At Wash Square, they found the headstone which was from very long ago but not the body if I recall correctly but they were conceivably digging in the vicinity of bodies… So something to think about. So far it’s been okay tho’.

Thanks for your comment.

Cathryn.

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matt kovary October 23, 2009 at 3:18 pm

October 23, 2009

Do you have any information on a tombstone that was uncovered today in WSP at the corner of Sullivan and West 4th Street? I saw the back of it with my own eyes being dusted and photographed inside the chain-link fence. The small crew were very tight lipped. Sincerely, Matt Kovary

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Tyler A. Chase August 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm

This is a very good blog, very interesting and relevant to our communities. I was wondering where did they put all those bodies? That should be public knowledge and would have been nice for them to be reburied in the park. It was terrible thing to do and not necessary at all to change that park. Bloomberg has been busy trying to make NY into a Long Island mall. He’s just as stupid as his buddy who ruled before him. He runs this place like a corporation, not a city full of individuals, full of human beings and he hates park animals.

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