Wouldn’t it be ironic if – after everything – the Washington Square Park Fountain was off-center to the Arch?

irony or... poetic justice, perhaps?

irony or... poetic justice, perhaps?

This photo was taken about a month ago by J. Bary who has been documenting the ongoing construction at Washington Square Park. It’s funny because the Fountain location looks a bit … off-center — not aligned to the Arch. (Part of the City’s plan is moving the historic Fountain 23 feet east to “align” with the Arch at Fifth Avenue.)  Wouldn’t that be ironic?

Of course, if the City really wanted to maintain “historic” details of Washington Square Park (as their schematic “plans” lay out… “bringing the lawn up to historic grade,” “historic plazas” modeled after the “1871 design”), they would leave the Fountain in the location it inhabited since the 1870’s, unaligned with the famous Arch. That way worked just fine – thank you very much – for over a century.

Then there’s the detail that the Fountain in the 1870 location was centered: Centered to the east-west axis of the Park. It was the center, symbolically and architecturally, of Washington Square Park.

That’s symmetry that makes sense.

Leave a comment


  1. After the old fountain was removed they surveyed the location for the new fountain. It took them a couple of days but they ended up planting several markers for the new location. I actually went to the edge of the park on WSP South and eyeballed the stakes. They lined up perfectly with the center of the arch and the center of 5th Avenue. The new fountain looks off-center as the photos are taken from an angle.

  2. cat

     /  August 8, 2008

    Hi J. Bary,

    Your photos have been great. Thank you.

    I’m sure “they” … “lined up [everything] perfectly” but (a) things happen (a woman showed me where some things are off ‘alignment’ in the Northwest corner) and (b) it’s entertaining to contemplate. !

    Thanks for your updates and keep taking those photos!

    WSP Blog.

  3. Bill on Fifth

     /  November 23, 2008

    Speaking of irony…..if you have ever positioned yourself so that you are standing in the park and looking through the arch you will notice that the arch is not aligned with Fifth Avenue. It is actually off a few degrees so that the center of the arch faces/points to the east side of Fifth, not the center. So if the fountain were to be aligned with the arch it would not be aligned to Fifth Avenue, which was probably the original reason to move the fountain — so that all three would be in alignment.

  4. As someone whose dog insists we Washington Square on a daily basis now that the weather’s good, I find that nothing seems to look “right” when we enter from the South.

    In the older design, with the fountain to the west and more open space coming up from Thompson Street, there was a more gradual lead-in to the circle. Now the path certainly looks skewed and, in photos, it’s nearly impossible to form a visual grid of major planes.

    Sometimes designs that appear so perfect on paper don’t necessarily work out in three dimensional visual space. Or maybe Sanford White and others involved in the park’s major features knew a thing or two about dealing with asymetrical space.

  1. Comment du Jour Re: Alignment of Washington Square Park Fountain, courtesy of a Curbed reader « Washington Square Park

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