A Look Back: 7 Years of This Blog |Covering “The magical park”

It was seven years ago today this blog launched. Seven years of Community Board, Landmarks Preservation, City Council and other meetings! Seven years of chronicling things like the out-of-control privatizers of public space, the arborcidal Waterfalls (remember that? that was, uh, fun), dying trees, the endless park construction, word that the Fountain was actually not aligned with the Arch after all, Mike Bloomberg (I can’t say I miss that), other parks and issues, the “little friends group” aka WSP private conservancy obscuring oh-so-much from the public in order to gain Community Board (and community) “approval” (revealed here at this blog first and in a series of posts), capturing the park in photos, its history and personalities, and just engaging events. I really had no idea when I started where this would go (and I still don’t). I remember meeting up with other citywide neighborhood bloggers early on, and it felt so exciting, this thing … writing a blog and being part of a community of bloggers. Those other bloggers are still inspiring to me, as is the Village, and, of course, Washington Square Park.
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NYU students balloon protest - Save the Park (2008)
from NYU students balloon protest – Save the Park (2008)
"old" park fence
The park’s “old” fence Photo: Louis Seigal
New fence, park under construction
New fence, park under construction
old park... garibaldi construction before moved
“old” park… garibaldi statue under construction before location moved (2010)
tulip patch in former park design, east of Arch, now deleted (larger alcove behind it)
tulip patch in former park design, east of Arch, now deleted (larger alcove behind it) (2009)
scene pre-construction: one of eight 40 year old tree chopped down to move fountain
Scene pre-construction: this healthy 40-year old tree (+ seven more) chopped down to move fountain (date unknown)
Picnic tables from old park, Fountain Plaza new construction had opened
Picnic tables being used in not-yet-redesigned section of park; Fountain Plaza new construction had opened just west of this (2009)

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Rally to save hot dog vendors, Photo: Stacy Walsh Rosenstock
Rally to save hot dog vendors, Photo: Stacy Walsh Rosenstock

The very first blog post:

The magical park

February 26, 2008

When I first got involved with what was going on at Washington Square Park, someone referred to the park as “magical.” It took me awhile to see that. Certainly… I’d been to Washington Square Park over the years. I’d sat and listened to music or watched strange happenings within the fountain. I’d marveled at the almost laid back ’60’s bohemian feeling it retained which co-existed amongst college students, chess players, old-timers, newbies, dog walkers, families, tourists. Every type person coexists and intermingles within Washington Square Park.

My renewed interest in the Park, in relation to the massive changes and radical overhaul the City has planned for it, occurred late last year initially out of concern for the cutting down of the trees and what that would mean for the wildlife in the Park.

As I looked closer, I realized what was going to be taken away by these mysterious, suddenly “necessary” changes — changes that would affect the whole essence of the Park … the things that make it work… those inexplicable factors which make it such a special place for so many people. To want to change that seemed to me an extension of the long arm of gentrification and homogenization of our city by our current Mayor, Mayor Bloomberg.

Then, it became even more important to oppose these changes and advocate for something different. This blog is my attempt to document what I’ve learned in a short time and share that information.

Photo Fountain Plaza under construction: J. Bary
Photo Fountain Plaza under construction: J. Bary

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One Billion Rising 2013 Photo: Jennifer Jager
One Billion Rising 2013 Photo: Jennifer Jager

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Thanks for reading, commenting, sharing this blog and appreciating the park!

** Cathryn

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Photos over the years: Cathryn
except for the following:
Black & white photo gal with guitar “old” park fence: Louis Seigal;
Group photo, rally to save “hot dog” vendors: Stacy Walsh Rosenstock;
Aerial view Fountain Plaza construction: J. Bary;
One Billion Rising: Jennifer Jager
Photo of now axed tree & previous scene around fountain: unknown photographer

6 thoughts on “A Look Back: 7 Years of This Blog |Covering “The magical park”

  1. Great work, Cathryn, thank you, thank you!
    Persistent, creative, extremely perceptive and with much foresight, you’ve documented so well the banal ways in which evil takes place, and at the same time the beauty and solidarity of people’s actions in protecting our park.

    Just tremendous work.

    What mirror did you break 7 years ago? 🙂

    Can you find it and do it again?

    Mitchel Cohen
    Brooklyn Greens/Green Party

    • Hi Mitchel,

      You are welcome & thank you for your kind words! “The banal ways in which evil takes place” is such an interesting turn of phrase. I really appreciate your comments. No mirrors were involved (I don’t consider any of it “bad” luck just some weird – ? – thing that called to me.). And, of course, I learned a lot from you!

      Many thanks!

      Cathryn

  2. Congratulations! I’m not exaggerating when I say this blog has changed the way I look at a park I’ve known for over forty years. Thank you for all your research and advocacy and writing and reporting.

    • Hi Richard,

      Thank you! That is such a terrific compliment. I so appreciate that. It is nice to know.

      Thanks for reading and your comments.

      best,
      Cathryn

  3. Thank you for your hard work and efforts over the past seven years. Your readers appreciate and enjoy reading your blog, and hope for another great seven years to come!

    • Hi Les,

      Thank you for the lovely acknowledgment. It is much appreciated. We will see what the future holds, right? Thanks for reading and the encouragement!

      best,
      Cathryn

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