At Washington Square Park, the "Tisch Fountain" Plaques Arrive!

"Tisch" Fountain Plaque
"Tisch" Fountain Plaque

One of the many controversial, widely disliked aspects of New York City’s redesign of Washington Square Park is the renaming of the century old — here-to-fore unnamed — fountain, its name sold off to the Tisch Family for $2.5 million. This agreement, between the Parks Department and the Tisch Foundation, took place in January 2005.

Yet, in another instance of its duplicitous and non-transparent agenda, the New York City Parks Department, under the direction of Commissioner Adrian Benepe, withheld this information from Community Board 2, the New York City Council and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. It was only when a community member and activist had the foresight to file a Freedom of Information Letter (FOIL) Request that the information was revealed.

The Tisches have their names on more than enough NYU buildings in the area. Did they really need their name on the Washington Square Park Fountain? There are so many famous and noted people affiliated with Washington Square Park, imagine if they had offered to name it one of those – Henry James, Bob Dylan, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Eleanor Roosevelt – and left their giant egos at the … fence?

tisch-plaque-arty1The plaque reads: “The restoration of the Fountain and Plaza was made possible by the families of Laurence A. Tisch and Preston R. Tisch.” I mean, c’mon. If the city had “renovated” Washington Square Park as requested, and not reconstructed every last inch of it, don’t ya think the city could have paid for it with our own funds and left the Tisches out of it? Of course, that doesn’t work with Mayor Bloomberg‘s privatization agenda.

Then there’s the matter of the cost. $2.5 million? I am against privatization of our parks and public spaces but let’s do a comparison. Chanel recently paid the Central Park Conservancy for an advertisement/exhibit in Central Park, according to Metro, “at least a million dollars for a three-week stay, and the city will collect another $400,000.”

And yet the Tisch Family paid a paltry $2.5 million to get their name – arguably – forever on the Washington Square Park Fountain?


** This plaque (one of two) is awaiting its installation on the aligned, leveled off fountain.

Update: Thanks to Curbed for linking to this site … check out the interesting comments over there.