With a little more time to reflect on the Park changes, I’ll write with some further observations but I wanted to share a comment that was posted last night by a reader here that sums up some of the sentiment.
There was also an interesting observation from a reader who commented over at the New York Times site last week in response to their fluffy, feel good piece about the opening which obscured any real detail about the arguments, cost, changes, or problems that have gone on in relation to the Park to date (and usually I like writer Jennifer 8. Lee’s pieces). He asked… why couldn’t the park have been renovated in stages? Why did a whole half of the Park have to be shut down all at once? Good question. The writer thought it was basically ridiculous in light of the work that was being done. So… stay with me a minute… if that had happened…if the Park had been done in stages, where the NW Quadrant was done first and then opened, and then the Fountain Plaza area worked on and completed, (a) it would not have taken nearly as long to have access to each section and (b) Park users would have had a chance to experience the changes in stages.
Instead, since the Park was closed off for 16 1/2 months, the first reaction anyone has had has been… it’s clean, it’s pretty… it’s OPEN! But once you get past that layer of emotions – and, yes, there are some elements of the design that are lovely and functional (I will go into them at a later date) – there ARE problems.
I know some of the blog readers don’t want to hear that. Some people would like anyone who was opposed to the dramatic changes and the Parks Department’s obfuscations to move on. But that is not appropriate in this situation because that diminishes and obscures real issues. Maybe there’s some way to ‘fix’ what they took away. Although many believe these changes were made purposefully to homogenize this vital public space.
Here is a comment from Mark Milano:
I agree with your frustration about the awful lack of community input into the renovation.
And while the new Park may look “better than nice,” it is not Washington Square.
The unique sunken performance space invited people to come down and join the fun – you had to make a conscious decision to enter, and once you did you were a part of the action. Now it’s just a wide open space that people walk through on the way to someplace else. The loss of the old trees is particularly tough.
Also, there were places in the original sunken area where you could step back from the activity and just observe – places where you had a sense of privacy in the midst of all the chaos. Those are all gone.
The new space isn’t terrible, it’s not the wonderful, unique space it was. Actually, it feels like a Disneyland recreation of Washington Square, not the real thing.
And the new fence sucks.