Spring Washington Square: A Snapshot of the Latest at the Park

Happy Spring at Washington Square Park! Following is a pictorial with some editorial of recent issues at the square.

So many trees have died around the fountain plaza and WSP Blog has covered this repeatedly. The trees that were planted amidst the controversial redesign at the park replaced healthy 40 year old+ trees which were axed so that the fountain could be moved 22 feet east to “align” with the Arch, part of the Bloomberg Administration’s folly. The replacements have not fared nearly as well.

This tree on the eastern side of the fountain was replaced after it was drowned in water which pooled repeatedly amidst rain due to improper drainage from the redesign construction; it was a sad sight to see. The redesigner/previous Park Admin would not admit to any issues so trees kept dying over 10+ years. More than fourteen trees have died, some planted and replanted in the same locations two or three times.

There has at times been a push by the Community Board to put “gates” at the entrances to WSP. So far this has successfully been avoided; it’s another way to clamp down and make the park less accessible and friendly. Currently what exist at the park entrances are called “french barricades.”

Looking west towards the fountain

Since the Bloomberg Administration’s controversial and contentious redesign of Washington Square Park (2009-2014+), and, particularly, over the last five or so years, skateboarders have taken on more and more space and become a bit more aggressive. WSP Blog appreciates a healthy mix at the park but it’s curious how much more aggressive the situation has become. Why?

Skateboarders Garibaldi statue
Lawn looking towards the Arch
Lawn closed, western end
Reinternment Signage as it were

Expect a separate post on the reinterment of skeletons back into the park earlier this year and the sad way this history at the park remains barely acknowledged here via a “paver” that has already disintegrated a few months later. Sigh.


The Mounds earlier this year had some issues, kept very much under the radar.

This guitarist had a small amplifier which technically is not allowed but for whatever reason the Parks Department of late has not figured out a way to regulate the levels of sound at the park.

Again, another issue that did not exist prior to the redesign of the park. Do we sense a theme here? In 2014, the city agency stated that they would train the Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) in using decibel meters. This may have happened briefly but the effort was curtailed. Everyone wants creativity and music to be a significant part of the park; it’s just if the sound levels exceed a certain amount, it disrupts the balance.

Lavender near the Arch

This signage that exists now to the east of the Arch is somewhat controversial. None of it was cleared by the Community Board. The historical reference board (far left) that exists here is quite selective. And this super large sign dedicated to Washington Square Park Conservancy was never approved (note: this private conservancy does *not* run this public park, unlike some other conservancies which do and those do not even exhibit signage like this … so which wealthy neighbors pulled what strings? This blog has advocated again and again for public, not private, control of public space which leads to, in theory, more transparency and less control by outside real estate and corporate forces).

If anything, since this private entity got involved in “raising money” for the park, it seems as if things have gotten more complicated. [For some history, visit this page.]

Skating away …

Photos: Cathryn

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8 thoughts on “Spring Washington Square: A Snapshot of the Latest at the Park”

  1. No mention of Drug dealing in the northwest corner of the park. No mention of the addicts shooting up and smoking Crack? Near the small children’s playground. ???

    • Hi Steven,

      It’s been covered at the blog in the past including coverage of meetings where the Sixth Precinct has come to speak. There is always more that can be reported. I will say that those who pushed for the redesign of the park swore that that would put an end to any drug dealing issues.

      Thanks for your comment.


  2. It is true. The whole west side of the park feels lost to drug dealing & homeless extending across the north side towards the arch. Saw this last week while approached twice by young homeless the minute we stopped walking for a second. They have expanded and are hanging out also in the side streets to the west park in doorways making those blocks less safe. I don’t feel it is safe for my senior friends to sit along the north anymore near the senior center. And is headed right for the babies’ playground which already had a big rat problem before.

    There has been expansion into the middle lawns by the homeless. Some of them are very loudly vocal in scary ways and walking up to people.

    The east-almost got hit twice by skateboarders in one walk. Why are they being allowed to use that statue as a ramp?? Are skateboarders aware there are multiple dedicated skateparks for them? I find they often don’t. There should be tv ads.

    I have lived here my whole life (60+) and played in the fountain as a child (when it still had filters). It breaks my heart to see this going on.

    • Hi Margot E,

      Thanks for writing in and sharing your long-time experiences at Washington Square Park.

      I do feel in the current situation/climate that a lot of people are struggling and we also have to have empathy for what they may be going through. There are different levels of situations you are addressing here. Of course, we also don’t want anyone to be scared. I’m sorry you have been experiencing that.

      At many Community Board 2 meetings I’ve attended, it has been stated that there are actually are not that many places for the skateboarders nearby. And alleged attempts (by Park Enforcement Patrol/PEP) to limit them seem to have only expanded where they go… it’s a strange conundrum. I think if their area of use was contained and maybe they had a set time in a set place perhaps something could work but I’m not sure what the answer is. I’ve been told the Parks Department is working on a plan of sorts.

      Thank you & stay safe.


      • Hi
        I am sensitive to the issues of the homeless. I know that but for the grace of G-d that could me. But something has to be done about the scary ones. It is a big complicated topic too long for a blog. I did not mean that sound like I dont care.
        If one just googles skate parks Manhattan you will see them. The other boros too. There is one in Chelsea on the river, one in Tribeca on the river, the Hudson river one is not far from Tribeca, there are two on the LES, and two far uptown, one on either side. So that is 7 just in Manhattan. Plus the other boros. I am not sure what “enough” would be. We have limited tennis courts, handball courts, bocce, pools and other things. I am just grateful we have them at all. The question is: why are the boarders not using them? I often see the upper west side one empty. When I ask them they don’t know about them. That is why I was thinking about an ad campaign with the summer coming on.

        • Hi Margot E,

          You did not sound like you didn’t care about the homeless and thanks for the information about the skate parks. I guess what’s come up at the CB2 meetings is there is nothing in the overall Village neighborhood … we’ll see what happens.

          Thanks for your thoughts.



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