A Look Back at the Washington Square Arch Lit in Color Over the Years on George Washington’s Birthday

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.

2020 & 2021

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

The Arch at Washington Square Park Turns 126 Years Old May 11, 2021

History of the Washington Square Arch & Exitus Acta Probat

The Roman Numerals on the Washington Square Arch

Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:

How the White Lighting on the Arch Went Tricolor to Remember Paris Victims | First Time Lighting Switched in Monument’s History November 17, 2015

Washington Square Arch, Modeled After Arc de Triomphe, Will Shine French Flag Colors Again Tonight November 15, 2015

Images of Martin Luther King Jr. Projected on Washington Square Arch for 50th Anniversary of His Death April 3, 2018

Washington Square Arch in PRIDE colors This Weekend Tonight, June 28 & June 29 June 28, 2019

Washington Square Arch, Other City, Park Landmarks Will be Lit Green Tonight to Honor NYC Parks Workers May 21, 2020

Photo #1: Brian Tovar
Photo #2: Richard Barone
Photo #3: Brian Tovar
Photo #4: NYC Parks
Photos #5, 6, 7, 8 & 9: Cathryn

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