The first President of the United States, George Washington, was born on February 22nd, 1732. The Arch at Washington Square Park is a memorial to Washington who served as President from 1789 to 1797. The original Arch was installed in 1889 to commemorate the centennial of Washington’s inauguration; it was constructed in wood, half a block from its current Greenwich Village location. The version we know and love, constructed in marble, was completed around 1892.
In 2015, for the first time, the Washington Square Arch was lit up in color to honor those who died in the attacks in Paris. The structure was lit in blue, white, and red to replicate the colors of the French flag. Fitting because the Arch itself was modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
In 2018, images of Martin Luther King, Jr. were projected on the Arch to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of King’s death. In June of 2019, to recognize the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Riots, the Arch was illuminated with PRIDE rainbow colors. In 2020, for over a month and for three nights in 2021, the monument was lit green to honor NYC Parks Department workers working so hard during the ongoing pandemic.
Colors on the Arch Only Occurred During de Blasio Era
The first time the Arch was lit in color in 2015, the de Blasio Administration was very much involved in making this happen, according to the designer. All of the above happened under Mayor de Blasio’s watch. Bill de Blasio went to NYU and had a connection to Washington Square Park — it will be interesting to see if the Arch gets lit in color again now that we have a new Mayor.
[It should be noted that in 1924, lyrics to Christmas carols were projected onto the monument to assist with caroling!]
The Arch as we Know it
The monument’s official name is Washington Arch. There are 102 steps to the top — this is not open to the public but there is a staircase within and once in awhile the Parks Department lets someone inside.
Learn More About Washington Square Arch
Previously at Washington Square Park Blog: