Lights Out, Washington Square! NYU Security Advises Students at Night to “Stay out of the Park”


About 1/3rd of the Lights – if not more – in the Eastern Half of the Park are Out


Recently, long-time park user Myrna Davis wrote in about the status of the lights – or lack thereof – at Washington Square Park after dark:

I’ve been looking after my sister’s little dog and discovered several nights ago that at least a dozen lampposts near Garibaldi were not lit, plus one of the globe clusters around the circle. It was only about nine p.m. and there were lots of people walking and sitting, but so dark that I decided to walk out rather than trip over Sugar.

On the way home I stopped in at the NYU security office on Washington Place at Mercer, and the officer on duty said that it was the responsibility of the city and to call 311–and that in fact they advised students to stay out of the park. I called but no one ever picked up that evening.

The following afternoon I couldn’t find a single PEP (Park Enforcement Patrol) person but a woman sweeping outside the new park office suggested I knock on the window, as the office door was locked. I did and a nice young fellow who came to the door said he understood and told me to call 311. This time someone answered who said that she would inform the Department of Transportation and gave me the following case number: 1301044.

The day after that I saw a police van that happened to be parked on University Place and asked one of the two officers sitting in it if the park was in their precinct. He said no. I asked what the precinct was. He answered, “Parks.” I said “Really? That’s a precinct?” And he said that the police only went in after they were called by a Parks person.

Then yesterday morning, I spotted two PEP people and they told me to go to the office. This time the door was unlocked and three officers were in conference. One was a Mr. Ferrara who said he was the new supervisor and on the job only a few days but cordially told me he would get in touch with yet a different group which is responsible for lighting in all the parks, adding that they all want lighting.

Well, this is one of the two most famously visited parks in Manhattan, full of tourists day and night–not to mention NYU students–and one would think after all the millions spent that someone could arrange to keep it properly illuminated.

This is not the first time there has been lighting issues at the park or that people have been directed to contact the Department of Transportation(DOT) but I would think there would have to be some degree of coordination between Parks Department and DOT to make sure that the lights are ON in a particular park, no? There also seems to be some confusion as to who exactly IS in charge which maybe is part of the problem.

This dearth of lights at Washington Square Park after dark has been the case for two weeks now – with no correction. NYU students graduate soon, the semester ends this week, but what about the security of everyone else who walks through the park at night?

By my estimation: about 1/3 of the lights in the Eastern half of the park are out and not lit. In addition, one light and one set of globes on the Fountain Plaza and three spotlights on the Arch (one directly Southeast of the Arch and two along Fifth Avenue) are also out. ALL the lights around Garibaldi Plaza are out, a huge section which a person has to cross to head towards the Eastern section of the park, as Myrna Davis noted.

Fountain Plaza:

Near Garibaldi:

One of the spotlights on the Arch out:

Globes out Fountain Plaza:

There was that period when the lights all around the park didn’t come on until hours after it was dark, the whole Fountain Plaza was devoid of lighting, even the Arch wasn’t lit! (link to be added) That was a different issue but it took a long time to be corrected. There needs to be better coordination and the Parks Department needs to stay on top of this.

Speed up the Relighting!

To recap, for at least two weeks, the lights have been out in huge sections of Washington Square Park East at night. It would seem imperative to speed up the relighting – even to get a few lights around Garibaldi Plaza.

Poor Garibaldi statue is ignored as it is, with no direct lighting on him, now he is totally in the dark.

Thanks to Myrna Davis for this information and staying on it.


Looking east, pathway:


There is a spotlight to the right of the lights which is out:

Poor Garibaldi:

Photos: Cathryn

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6 thoughts on “Lights Out, Washington Square! NYU Security Advises Students at Night to “Stay out of the Park””

  1. checked that work order on DOT
    Work Order Status
    Work Order #: 1301044
    Reported on: 2014/05/02
    Status Our contractor has reported that the defect is now repaired and the street light is working. If this is not the case you are welcome to reenter the call referencing the above work order, describing the trouble in detail or you may call 311 anytime, 7 days a week, to speak with a live operator for further assistance.

  2. Hi mo,

    Thanks for your comment. It is not just one street light. Does the work order not have a date that it is marked closed on it? Thanks for looking that up. Quite interesting. Unless it was fixed as of last night… but it was definitely more than one street light. Curious.


  3. It is likely that conditions will deteriorate in the park as part of the campaign to create a conservancy. They will artificially create these bad conditions to gain public support for the conservancy. And also to create the illusion that the conservancy saved the park once the conservancy is official and Parks goes back to doing normal maintenance.

  4. Hi Monica,

    They are sort of in a catch-22 because the “conservancy” aka “little friends group” exists and yet it also is not supposed to play too large a role, any real role beyond raising funds. But yes they could use this to cause a push for it for sure.


  5. Official neglect of the park, inviting conservancy intervention, is made all the more likely by the fact that the park’s administrator, Sarah Neilson, is also the conservancy’s director–an appalling, blatant conflict of interest that ought to be illegal.

  6. Charles, Agreed. It IS an “appalling, blatant conflict of interest that ought to be illegal,” for sure. How to get this “dual role” that has been accepted so many places banned would be a good project / movement.

    Thanks for your comment.



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