What’s The Latest at Washington Square Park in Spring 2016? An Update (Photos)

fountain washington square park
It was a beautiful day today in New York, the warmest day of late, around 85 degrees. And yet, the fountain plaza was oddly quiet. Four empty tree pits lead to an overwhelming lack of shade and there is just so much cement, lending the space the feeling of a corporate mall plaza. The fountain offsets this – but only to a degree.

Do you think the perpetually dying tree situation around the Fountain will ever be resolved? (Or will Parks Department politics, protecting the re-designer, continue to be at play?) I believe the tally is 14 dead trees in a location that holds seven.

Recently, the spots of the two vendors on the Fountain Plaza, the crepe and the “hot dog” food cart, were reversed. The original locations of the previous two “hot dog” vendors, before the conservancy ladies, overstepping their boundaries, got involved — leading to their relocation and removal — were much less noticeable.*

Public pressure later led to the Parks Department reversing that decision. First, two of the vendors came back, now there is one. The argument was that there should be “healthy food” items available: it is unclear how crepes fit into that category.

hot dog vendor washington square park moved


There was a “Roots” promotion on and all around Garibaldi Plaza:


Dog intrigued by fountain which, yes, is on for the season! :
dog surveys fountain washington square park

dog survey fountain washington square park


arch washington square park

Below, one of the empty tree pits south of Fountain. I guess this guy was working on his tan and happy about the lack of shade and hot bench (the marble benches get ultra hot in some locations!):


chess washington square park

music washington square park


It seemed hopeful for a moment that the storage trailer along Washington Square South (above, missing) which replaced the previous NYPD trailer was gone for good. But, alas, it was only moved temporarily due to the sidewalk construction. It is scheduled to return.

The new $7 million bathroom/administration building was designed and built from scratch with curiously not enough room for Parks Department storage and equipment.

Or maybe adding in the NYPD at some point, and not telling anyone about it, threw the plans off?

And below, the Hangman’s Elm in the Northwest Quadrant hanging on.

In 2012, this over 300-year-old tree was reported to be in jeopardy health-wise by the Parks Department, likely due to inadequate protection during the redesign construction. There as been no update since.
hangmans elm washington square park tree oldest
This was once a small plaque identifying the tree (well, you can see it the remains of it but not read it):
Sunbathing pigeon:
pigeon sunbathes washington square park
The new PEP(Parks Enforcement Patrol) “Step up sergeant” chats with NYPD (they seemed friendly with the guys in the NW Quadrant, in a good way):
Sidewalk reconstruction continues along Washington Square North:
sidewalk reconstruction washington square park
Photos: Cathryn

A lot of events coming up in June, more on these to come.

* ICYMI: The two previous “hot dog” vendors were moved from locations north and south of the fountain in 2013. Washington Square Park Conservancy meeting minutes, discovered by this blog — minutes recorded months before the community even knew of this private organization’s existence — stated that the vendors “disrupted the Arch view corridor.” For years after the Fountain Plaza opened in 2009, no one minded them in these spots – but private forces can move mountains. Or vendors, in this case. The affluent founding members of the Washington Square Park Conservancy swore up and down at the one public meeting Community Board 2 held to address their private organization’s “formation” that they only used the word “conservancy” in the name because every other name they considered was “taken.” Washington Square Park has been run and managed by the Parks Department for over 20 years (and remains so at this writing). Elizabeth Ely, one of the master architects of this ruse with Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro, told the community in June 2013: “We’re just a little friends’ (of park) group.” But the socialite founders were always looking to gain more ground at the park, and keep encroaching on it more and more. This is contrary to the evasive, incomplete and inaccurate statements made to the public but in sync with FOIL documents and their internal emails uncovered by WSP Blog.

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