Nine Years Covering “The Magical Park”

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The original tagline of Washington Square Park Blog, which published its first post nine years ago today, was:

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

sparrow Washington Square Park sign
This blog was started to document the controversial redesign of the park – construction began late December 2007 – and expanded from there over these nine years.

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

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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, story broken here first…

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One Billion Rising 2013 Photo: Jennifer Jager
One Billion Rising 2013 Photo: Jennifer Jager
Photo:
Photo: Stan Costanza/NY Daily News

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NYU students balloon protest - Save the Park (2008)
from NYU students balloon protest – Save the Park (2008)
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The park’s “old” fence Photo: Louis Seigal
New fence, park under construction
New fence, park under construction

“old” park…

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Garibaldi statue under construction before location moved (2010)

Former Tulip Patch Wash Sq North (2009):

tulip patch in former park design, east of Arch, now deleted (larger alcove behind it)
there were flowers before the park was redesigned (some people forget)

Scene prior to park redesign construction:

scene pre-construction: one of eight 40 year old tree chopped down to move fountain
This healthy 40-year old tree (+ seven more) chopped down to move fountain (date unknown)

Fountain Plaza had opened in background – the fountain was moved 22 feet east to “align” with the Arch at Fifth Avenue costing an unknown figure to do so:

Picnic tables from old park, Fountain Plaza new construction had opened
Picnic tables being used in not-yet-redesigned section of park

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The first WSP 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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Thanks for reading, commenting, sharing this blog and appreciating the very magical park.

Cathryn

postscript: The redesign of Washington Square Park took over seven years and cost over $40 Million. Both figures more than double what was projected at the onset. The budgeted and approved amount for the three phase (which became four phases) redesign was $16 million.

Another focus of this blog has been the threat to public parks of privatization of public space.

Read about problems with privatization here and at my ongoing series at the Huffington Post.

As to the current risk to Washington Square Park (not privatized – yet), visit this blog’s Private Conservancy Watch and here (concealed documentation by Conservancy founders uncovered by WSP Blog).

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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
One Billion Rising: Jennifer Jager
Daytime protest (with signs): Stan Costanza/New York Daily News
Aerial view Fountain Plaza construction: J. Bary
Photo of now axed tree & previous scene around fountain: unknown photographer

2 thoughts on “Nine Years Covering “The Magical Park”

  1. Loved the girl poet with the typewriter!

    I could never afford to visit NYC until 2016 when I learned I could camp out in Jersey City for $55 a day.

    WSP is fantastic! I wish I could afford to visit more often, but am grateful your blog can keep me up to date. Thanks for the history lesson and your blog!

  2. Hey Dave,

    Thanks so much for your comment! Much appreciated. I love that shot of the gal poet with the typewriter too!!

    Thanks for reading & enjoy WSP!!

    Cathryn

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