Eight Year Blogiversary of Washington Square Park Blog

Original Washington Square Park Blog Header
Original Washington Square Park Blog Header
Original Washington Square Park Blog Header/Site

I am not certain how it is eight years today since Washington Square Park Blog began!

You can read the very first post from February 26, 2008 here: The magical park.

This blog began to chronicle the controversial redesign of the park – construction began late December 2007 – and expanded from there over the years.

The original tagline of WSP Blog was:

“the chronicles of a beloved park and a city government overcome by its own power.”

Pictured above is the old header with photo of the former un-aligned fountain. Note: the living trees around it.

fountain summer 2014 lady and boy
In 2009, at the time of the first Anniversary of the blog, I wrote this:

I recounted here how I started this blog after going to an exhibit in January 2008 at the Municipal Art Society on Jane Jacobs. Jane Jacobs had been critically involved over the years at Washington Square Park and, of course, New York City, in general. The goal of the exhibit was to inspire community activism.

    They handed out a little booklet which said, basically, if all else fails, if you’ve tried everything, START A BLOG.

I recognized – from hearing their stories – that many of the people in the community had tried the typical routes (go to meetings, talk to politicians, talk to your community board, hand out flyers, etc. etc.). A blog seemed like something new, different.

Right around the time I started, I met all these wonderful Brooklyn bloggers at a blogger luncheon. They were all so inspiring, honest, talented, encouraging, quirky.

Truthfully, if I had realized how much work it would be, I might have re-thought it but this blog provided a place to practice writing in a structured way that was part activism, part journalism. I have a background in public relations so it seemed like some of that might get thrown in also.

I started out wanting to tell the story of what had happened to that point. Then, last summer, new meetings about the park’s redesign began and I was able to report the story as it was happening. Curbed called this a “watchdog blog.” Along the way, this blog (and I) got written up in the New York Times, linked to by numerous other blogs and web sites, and had written dialogue with the NYC Parks Commissioner.

When I first got started – to catch up – I surveyed video footage and scoured newspaper articles recounting the numerous meetings and lawsuits and presentations … oh my! … navigating a history of incomplete and often inaccurate information presented by the Parks Department, questionable decisions made by the local Community Board 2, Landmarks Preservation Commission and City Council, and political deceptions and maneuvering across the board. Catching up, the well of information seemed bottomless.

I recognized early on that I needed to interconnect other issues going on in our city and public space that also relate to the issues at Washington Square Park.

Those inter-connections are:

* the reduction and privatization of public space (particular emphasis on Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, and Yankee Stadium Parkland);

* the cutting down of hundreds if not thousands of trees in our parks across the five boroughs while the Mayor hypes his MillionTreesNYC “initiative” ;

* the dangerous and controversial use of artificial turf in our parks and playing fields;

* NYU: Washington Square Park’s influential neighbor and its reckless real estate land grabs which are decimating our communities and neighborhoods throughout Manhattan as it plants its flags seemingly everywhere. (NYU’s influence on Washington Square Park’s plans is very behind-the-scenes but it is there. NYU owns, after all, basically all the real estate that surrounds the park.);

* Business Improvement Districts and Conservancy Models : The problem with the overly pervasive BIDs and Conservancies is that they get a stronghold on our public spaces, thereby influencing usage in ways that are based on bolstering real estate values over community interests.

Looking back, it feels like many of those issues got more attention during the (seemingly endless) Bloomberg years.
sparrow Washington Square Park sign

dying tree Washington Square Park
The saga of the dying trees around the Fountain has been covered repeatedly here…

Garibaldi statue Washington Square Park

Rally to Save Hot Dog Food Cart Vendors 2013 WSP
As has the saga of the missing hot dog food cart vendors due to private influence, broken here first…
there were flowers before the park was redesigned (some people forget)
there were flowers before the park was redesigned (some people forget) – Former Tulip Patch Wash Sq North
picnic tables washington square park pre-redesign
Picnic tables from old park were there after new Fountain Plaza opened – no longer

Last year, I reflected on the seven year anniversary – lots of photos at this post:

A Look Back: 7 Years of This Blog |Covering “The magical park” February 26, 2015

8 Year Blogiversary
8 Years!!

This blog continues to update on the latest at this important public space, including: coverage of Community Board meetings, monitoring and reporting on the continued privatization attempt at Washington Square Park (held off for now), reporting on the perpetually dying trees around the Fountain, music, events & other happenings at the park, breaking the story of the pigeon nettings, animals/wildlife, WSP history, Greenwich Village, the city Parks Department, other parks, privatization of public space, and often breaking stories. It is always great to capture the magical park in photographs.

Thanks so much for reading and for your support over the years!

best,
Cathryn
Washington Square Park Blog

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Photos: Cathryn