50th Anniversary of Washington Sq Folk Riot April 9th; Community Board 2 Meeting To Discuss Commemorative Event Wed. March 2nd

April 9, 2011 marks the 50th year anniversary of what is now called the Washington Square Folk Riot. Apparently, plans are in the works to mark this with an event of some kind and Community Board 2 Parks Committee will be meeting this Wednesday night, March 2nd to discuss a “celebration” of the anniversary.

On the Washington Square Folk Riot from The Indypendent:

Washington Square Park has been a place for musicians since at least the 1940s. By 1961, it was the center of the city’s folk-music scene, and Parks Commissioner Newbold Morris ordered the police to crack down on “the roving troubadours and their followers.” The musicians defied the ban, and on April 9, police invaded the park to clear them out. The result was what became known as the “Folk Song Riot.” One group sat down in the empty fountain and sang “We Shall Not Be Moved.” The cops attacked them with billy clubs. “5,000 BEATNIKS RIOT IN VILLAGE,” the tabloid Mirror headlined.

One of the demonstrators may have been 19-year-old Bob Dylan, who two days later opened for John Lee Hooker at Gerde’s Folk City, down the block on West Fourth Street. The city eventually relented after more musical protests, including a sing-in by 1,500 people in a nearby vacant lot.

Other items on the CB2 meeting agenda (both public hearings):

* Request for renovation of Father Fagan Square (Sixth Ave. betw. Prince and Spring)
* “Treeing-up Hudson Square”- A proposal for intensive tree planting.

Date: Wednesday, March 2nd, 6:30 p.m.

Location: Little Red School House, 272 Sixth Avenue at Bleecker Street, Auditorium

Trains: A, B, C, D, E, F to W. 4th-Wash Square or 1 train to Houston Street

Note: No mention of Washington Square Park Phase II update, cost overrun, delays or projected completion on the committee’s agenda.

P.S. — This anniversary event was canceled. See archives for why.

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7 thoughts on “50th Anniversary of Washington Sq Folk Riot April 9th; Community Board 2 Meeting To Discuss Commemorative Event Wed. March 2nd”

  1. I didn’t know about that police riot in WSP’s history. Thanks for letting me know about it.

    I’m really convinced Mayor for Life Bloomberg will keep WSP under construction until he is no longer in office. It’s too good of a launching pad for dissent.

  2. Hi. I didn’t know of it either! There’s a lot of history at this park. And you’re right, it’s very possible re: Mayor (FL) Bloomberg and the park’s construction!

  3. Hi. I was an 11 year old girl who was present at the folk singers protest. My girlfriends and I were in a documentary movie that was made of the incident. Here is the link to the movie: http://web.me.com/dandrasin/Dansworld/FIlms/FIlms.html I am hoping to find out what the plans are for the 50th Anniversary of that day. I understand that Israel Young, one of the leaders and spokesperson may be at the event. I hope that someone will post the information on this website.

  4. Cathryn, Thanks for responding…After surfing the web for a bit, I finally got the sense that there was a personality problem and it wasn’t going to happen. Its too bad…the protest was a turning point in the lives of many people and certainly meant a lot to those of us who were there and involved. Mr. Young was instrumental…so to speak…to what was happening…my girlfriends and I used to hang out in his shop…as preteens…we just loved folk music. So, it would have been nice to have somehow commemorated the protest and Mr. Young…for his contributions at the time to both life in the Village and to Folk Music…perhaps, someone will come forward to do that…he’s on facebook and has many friends all over the world…Rachel

  5. I was at Washington Square for the free music and got caught up when the mounted police invaded. A police horse stepped on my toe as I recall and the Daily Mirror had a picture of me with the horse towering over me on the front page. I wish I could get that picture now. I must admit I recalled it was the summer of 1960 untill checking the facts by search engines.


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