Disorientation Guide to NYU (students moved in this weekend!) includes WSP article within it

Downtown Manhattan, NYU Flags Abound
Downtown Manhattan, NYU Flags Abound

Politics as Puppetry Blog has the whole Disorientation Guide to NYU available for download. It contains material on Activism at NYU, a Flow Chart to How NYU Works, Taking Back NYU, Who the Trustees are, and more!

They write: “The Disorientation Guide is a growing tradition at NYU – the first one was published at the beginning of the 2002 school year, and students have published a new edition annually since.”

They asked WSP Blog to write a piece for the Disorientation Guide about what’s going on at Washington Square Park for new students to make them aware, engaged and hopefully involved. I’ve posted it below:

Washington Square Park is world famous for the art, culture, music, politics, and community that has transpired there in its over 150 years as a public park in New York City. For NYC government under Mayor Bloomberg, its importance has become magnified because of its location in the midst of prime real estate in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. New York University owns much of (close to all) the real estate that surrounds the Park. The University rarely misses an opportunity to feature the historic Washington Square Arch in its advertising and promotional materials. The Park is the setting of NYU’s graduation ceremony.

In more recent years, due to neglect by the New York City Parks Department, Washington Square Park — while remaining vital to music, politics, art, students, tourists, people of all ages and from all backgrounds — was looking a little rough around the edges. That didn’t stop it from being a place where people gather in unique ways. A national organization called Project for Public Spaces did a study of Washington Square Park in 2005 and said, “As a neighborhood park and civic gathering place, it may be one of the great public spaces in the world.”

The New York City Parks Department is presently in the midst of a redesign of Washington Square Park. Currently in Phase I (of three phases), this “renovation” is really a complete overhaul of this historic, beloved space. The redesign will: align the Fountain with the Arch (after 137 years unaligned) at Fifth Avenue which entails moving the Fountain 23 feet east, level the unique ‘sunken plaza’ around the Fountain, reduce dramatically the public gathering space around the fountain, add more lawn, reduce the width of the pathways and areas at the corners of the Park, move the two dog runs, lose the small alcoves (sitting areas) on the northern and eastern sides of the Park, and basically move close to every piece of the Park into a different location.

Washington Square Park has been a counter-balance to

Read more…

The Soul of Washington Square Park: What the NYC Parks Department Left Out of their Redesign Plans

* Recycled Entry *

While looking up articles on Washington Square Park earlier this year, I came across a research paper by a student at SUNY(State University of New York) Syracuse College of Environmental Science and Forestry entitled: “Searching for the Soul of Washington Square Park: Employing Narrative, Photo-Voice and Mapping to Discover and Combine Pragmatic Issues of Urban Park Design with a Community’s Emotional Needs” (May 2007). It was written by Yamila Fournier as a senior project.

Spending time at Washington Square Park working on her research, Ms. Fournier interviewed Park users as well as Parks Department “officials.” She investigated people’s routines at the Park and what they loved about it as a public space. She explored what the Parks Department procedures are for redesign of a park (the answer: there are no protocols in place).

As she delves into the history and process of the redesign of Washington Square Park and the interactions between government agencies and the community, she ties together themes in ways that have not been fully explored elsewhere. I have excerpted parts of it here.

Excerpts from “Searching for the Soul of Washington Square Park” (note: the formatting is all mine. It’s a 52 page+ paper so this is condensed.):


When the idea to renovate Washington Square Park was first introduced, the general consensus was that the park is in need of much repair.

That is where all agreement ended. Since the plans for the redesign were unveiled in 2001, there has been no harmony.

The proposed redesign specifies:

*a closable 4′ fence around the perimeter;
*bringing the central fountain up to grade with the road;
*moving the central fountain 22′ to the east to create an axial relationship with the newly renovated arch;
*relocating dog runs;
*enlarging playgrounds;
*adding an adventure playground to replace the highly contentious mounds;
*creating a new building for Parks Department offices and equipment;
*relocating statuary;
*eliminating seating areas;
*adding light fixtures; and
*renovating bathrooms, among other changes.

Every portion of the design has its critics. One thing that almost all the critics can agree on is that the community felt left out of the design process.

Read more…