City Clamps Down: New Curfew in Effect at Washington Square Park Over Next Two Weekends


Last weekend at Washington Square Park, people and activity in the park lasted past the designated curfew of 12 midnight, and NYPD in riot gear with helmets and batons mobilized on Fifth Avenue alongside the Arch and descended on the crowd which was basically having a party in the park.

Now, to counteract this happening the next two weekends, the New York City Parks Department, in conjunction with the local Sixth Precinct, have put into effect a 10 p.m. curfew for Friday-Sunday May 28th through 30th and Friday-Sunday June 4th through 6th.

Did the NYPD and Mayor De Blasio’s administration learn nothing from last year when the police doubled down on Black Lives Matter protesters, “kettling” them (basically boxing in) and enforcing “order” via violence? This just inflamed everything.

Is there no (other) procedure than bringing in police in riot gear because people are partying in a park after the designated curfew?

A curfew, by the way, that is one hour earlier than the traditional Parks Department curfew in city parks which is 1 a.m. A note: it was not that long ago that parks were open 24 hours with no curfew.

Who posts news about a very Public park

The news of the dwindling hours was only issued online in any form by Washington Square Park Conservancy, a private group formed by wealthy neighbors, which does not run or manage Washington Square Park. This self-proclaimed “little friends group” was formed by four socialites about eight years ago; at the time, these wealthy neighborhood women hid mountains of information from the public in an astounding lack of transparency and “murky” behind closed doors dealings. Members of local Community Board 2 mostly chose to look the other way once Washington Square Park Blog revealed these dealings. Readers of WSP Blog are likely familiar with this saga. [If not, read this page.] This private group would still very much like to run the park.

Neighbors and park users have been against the privatization concept for this park for decades citing real concerns of commercial, real estate and moneyed interests taking hold of the iconic space. Unlike this Greenwich Village park’s neighbors to the north which are privatized (see: Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, Union Square Park), a private group does not run this public space.

The responses to their tweet were not positive. While this group presumably did not make this decision, for some reason, they were the only ones issuing any notices online about this.

Instead of posting its own unique message, the Sixth Precinct retweeted Washington Square Park Conservancy’s tweet.

In response to a query by Washington Square Park Blog as to why a private organization is announcing this curfew vs. the city agency which runs the park, Parks’ press office responded that “Notices are posted on site in the park.”

How things are announced can certainly be fine tuned — although it does point to a larger issue about who announces things related to this public park, why, and how.

From last weekend on Twitter:

Twitter Last weekend

Do the NYPD and the city Parks Department think this will go well? It’s almost as if they don’t want it to. They may get less push back over the next few days – less people may be in the park at night if it’s raining – but after that?

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16 thoughts on “City Clamps Down: New Curfew in Effect at Washington Square Park Over Next Two Weekends”

  1. You obviously are ignorant to the facts, blind to the destruction/defacement of the park, deaf to loud music that is not allowed without permits, oblivious to the trash that remains after the “party” is over and uninformed as to the violence, drug dealing and crime that exists in the park. But your journalist cred is copying and pasting retweets. Bet you don’t have the integrity to publish an opposing view.

    • Hi Carmine,

      Thank you for your comment. You obviously are new to this blog and have not read further. Because of this, you likely have missed many many report backs from Community Board meetings about situations that have gone on past and present at Washington Square Park. You’re mixing up a bunch of different issues here and this post is just addressing one specific circumstance, not every one that exists.


      p.s. Feel free to read the archives under categories such as Community Board 2 or Happening at the park or Parks Department to inform yourself further.

      • Wearing riot gear is not being violent. It is just protection. (albeit can be scary looking) It is very easy for us to armchair this where we are nice and safe. You can’t pay me enough to be a cop-and I bet a lot of the people here who take cheap shots. Does no one stop to think that cops- at least sometimes- are overreacting because they are scared?? They are human beings not robots and have families to go home to. I definitely agree that some are brutes that need to be off the force. But I am not going to whitewash all of them as has been getting done this past year in general. You can NOT program them to be perfect all the time. Not realistic. Citizens have to take responsibility too for how they act and no one wants to talk about that. Like who is leaving all this trash in the park? Not the birds.

        That comment about sweeping is ridiculous and insulting. When you go sweep the park yourself, let us know.

        • Wearing riot gear is violence just like a person walking around openly carrying firearms is provocative and violent (they do this in many red states) even if they do not actually use their gun. Traditionally police only used riot gear when there was a riot. Now they use it regularly whenever there is a political demonstration, regardless of how non-violent the protest is. Showing up on riot gear when no violence has broken out sends a message that the police are spoiling for a fight. I don’t know how old you are, but it prior to the early 2000s police never, ever routinely wore riot gear, not during the widespread protests of the 1960s and 1970s, and not during the high crime era of the 1980s and 1990s,

          • the police came and announced closure – letting the illegal party continue – rule is no music after 10 pm no amplified music ever without permit. The partiers refused to leave and assaulted the police with bottles and jumped on cars. Only then did the gear and additional back up show up. This is after night after night ignoring the problem or just retreating and doing nothing – the gear to to protect the police. Can you blame them? they are not the ones being hit. Believe it or not, thousands of people live around the park and have had our lives turned upside down this year.

  2. Thanks Cathryn for your consistent and excellent reporting on Washington Square Park, on City policy with regard to all parks, and on the fight to keep our public parks “public”. I remember when the curfew you reference was a novel idea, and now we just take “closing times” for granted. Then, too, a large cluster of NYPD under the direction of the Mayor, moved in to remove hundreds of people from the Park, including Patti Smith. Some living in the area may have complaints about noise, but one of the benefits of moving into a building next to the already-existing park, is precisely that upsurge of New York creativity that Washington Square Park helps to foster. I’d be delighted to trade my very quiet apartment overlooking Gravesend Bay in Bensonhurst (as beautiful as it is) for a similarly priced apartment on 5th Avenue overlooking the Park, noisy as it might be. That’s the nature of the beast and it’s what makes New York worth living in.

    • Thanks, Mitchel, for your comment and perspective. It’s so true that a curfew was only put in place at NYC parks not that long ago – parks used to be open 24 hours and surrounding neighbors to these parks survived. And, yes, the “upsurge of New York creativity that Washington Square Park helps to foster” can’t be underestimated and perhaps is at times taken for granted. Keeping our public parks “public” is so important and I hope more people will get involved in that ‘fight.’

    • Mitch thats a lovely story of lost youth. Here in the real world, we who still live in the area, have had enough. No, its not about some beatniks strumming a guitar. The nightly protests along with huge anger, graffiti, destruction, crime, drugs (open air market for crack and heroin 24/7) , muggings, vandalism morphed into organized rave type events with booming amplified speakers, fireworks, ATV and motorcycles whipping through til dawn leaving a ton of trash nightly. These are organized events yup from outsiders who do not care about the community. The closing time was demanded only after it became clear that by midnight the situation is too far gone and out of control and dangerous.

      • “motorcycles whipping through til dawn” inside the Park? Really?
        There’s a big upsurge in motorcycles and cars practicing “spins” near my apartment in Brooklyn all night every night too — I take it as a result of people being locked into their apartments with nothing to do under Covid — but inside the park? Hmmm. Do you have any pictures of it? I’m sorry, but I doubt that that’s true.

  3. While I am not happy to see police in riot gear, I totally get it. People are throwing things at them. I don’t blame them for not wanting to get hit in the head with a bottle. The other night people threw things at EMTS (!!!) responding to the big fire on Bleecker St. while I was told by FD that protestors refused to allow a fire truck through (!!!). This kind of thing has an effect on how personnel respond to ANY and all situations.

    I don’t understand why people don’t get it-you have to have permits for large gatherings in public spaces like this don’t you? Which it seems they are not getting?? Despite this, they are allowed to do their thing. But then they have to respect the curfew and leave like grown ups. And don’t leave a mess. Would they want their little kids to come into that the next day? Of course not.

    If cops could just sit in the car and say on the loudspeaker “Ok, time to go home” and people DID…this would not happen. People bring stuff on themselves.

    Who organizes these parties? Anyone? That is why we have a permit system. So there is some kind of accountability for how the park is left behind afterwards. This says to me don’t allow this to happen without permits.

    I easily found a notice saying the park was closing at 10pm on the site for WSP on the right side boldly marked. Maybe this is in reaction to your post.

  4. “less people”

    People are quantifiable objects… unless you’re putting them in a blender, it’s always “fewer”.

    Is there some reason no one online seems to understand the difference between those two words?

  5. Living across from a large Manhattan park which is supposed to close at 1 am, (was / is open 24/7) I can tell you nothing good happens after 1 am. Last summer it was a place to set off fireworks until dawn nightly. There are limits to what behavior is allowed in our parks and clearly people have chosen to step over the line.


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