The Skeletons of Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park “Renovation”
(note: fountain entirely torn up now; trees gone.)

Washington Square Park first came into being as a Park in the 1850’s. It was a Potter’s field (a “common” burial ground) from 1797-1825. It is believed that up to 20,000 people were buried there (and are still there) from that time period.

In mid-to-late January of this year, while excavating the park during their “renovation,” City workers found at least 4 intact skeletons and 70-80 human bones.

Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner William Castro asserted previously to the community in front of local Community Board 2 – to address concerns about precisely this issue – that the Parks Department would not be digging more than 1-3 feet deep. The city then proceeded to dig from 7 to 11 feet below grade.

The City told the Associated Press in January that the bones would be “analyzed” and “reburied respectfully.”

NYC 24 blog has a new story about the bones resurfacing in Washington Square Park.

And, of course, digging up skeletons can have many meanings. Skeletons ‘of our past’ means interfering with the historical and emotional center of our beings — which is exactly what New York City is attempting to do with their excavation of Washington Square Park.


As a new blog, word of mouth is very important. We’d like to thank Patti Smith for linking to our site. She asks, “What is happening to OUR Washington Square Park?”