Last Day for Freddy’s Bar, in path of Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn

A really nice note from the manager of Freddy’s Bar in Brooklyn about their closing … “Freddy’s is not merely a building on a street corner, it is a grand idea. Freddy’s Bar has been the culmination of everything I am and everything I’ve ever wanted this bar to be.” Freddy’s was in the way of the Atlantic Yards project, in the “footprint,” and would have been claimed by “eminent domain abuse” if they hadn’t agreed to go (they felt “condemnation” would have been worse).

They are throwing “a Victory Party on Friday, April 30th – the last day/night they will be open – “to celebrate the little guys who’ve been fighting a land-grabbing billionaire and the corrupt New York government agencies that he greatly influences.” They expect to open in a new location, most likely near Union Street and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn.

Municipal Art Society Livable Neighborhoods Program Covers Aspects of Community Planning At Hunter College Saturday, May 8th

The Municipal Art Society is hosting a free all-day workshop, Livable Neighborhoods, on Saturday, May 8th for community members to learn all aspects of community planningeconomic development, community organizing, historic preservation, sustainability, zoning, and parks and open spaces!

When: Saturday, May 8th, from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Hunter College (695 Park Ave., corner of 68th Street and Lexington)
Free (light lunch is served). For the agenda and to register, go here or contact ssherman[at] or call 212.935.3960 x 1259.

I didn’t agree with the MAS position on artist vendors in parks but the organization does a lot of good work and offers many great programs. The MAS position ignores the “congestion” of Union Square Green Market, Bryant Park holiday market / previous fashion shows, Chanel buying ad space in Central Park – it appears problematic to me to put the spotlight on the one thing that’s not commercialized as a problem leading to a lack of open space.

Scenes at the Park, April 2010

Arch and Umbrellas Rainy April Day

North West Entrance

Photos: Cathryn

Washington Square Park’s Garibaldi Statue Moved!

Garibaldi Moved!

Garibaldi Old Location to Left

Garibaldi Original Location (Before Move)

The Giuseppe Garibaldi Statue at Washington Square Park was moved last week from its position facing west (looking toward the fountain, his back was to Washington Square East). The Garibaldi Statue was designed by Giovanni Turini and erected in 1888. It was refurbished once but not moved (hard to find info on that but there was a plaque outlining it at the Park – American Express financed it at the time).

Some background on the Garibaldi statue from Emily Kies Folpe in her book, It Happened on Washington Square below. Interesting note that Garibaldi was approached by Abraham Lincoln at the start of the Civil War to command a Union army corps. In response, one of Garibaldi’s stipulations was that Lincoln commit to abolishing slavery. This was not agreed to. Garibaldi declined.

The historic Italian presence around the Square accounts for the great bronze statue standing east of the fountain — the figure of Giuseppe Garibaldi, commander of the insurrectionary forces in Italy’s struggle for unification. Garibaldi was one of the greatest guerrilla generals in history and the most popular Italian patriot of his time. After fighting for Giuseppe Mazzini’s short-lived Roman Republic, he sought asylum in the United States where he lived for two years on Staten Island. Returning to his homeland in 1851, he led his red-shirted volunteer army on campaigns that helped bring about a unified Italy twenty years later.

At Garibaldi’s death in 1882, the Italo-Americano newspaper opened a subscription list to raise funds for a monument honoring the general. Public sculpture was one of the most popular art forms of the nineteenth century (more…)

Spring at Washington Square Park 2010


Photo: Cathryn.

Phase III Washington Square Park: New Bathroom/Park Administrative Building

Design for new bathrooms/park admin offices

This is the design for the main part of Washington Square Park Redesign Phase III: the Park administrative offices and bathrooms. Presently these are three separate buildings (ladies/mens room and park admin offices) and now they will be combined. There will be a path that separates the building from the new dog run — people will be able to sit and watch the dogs — which is being moved to the exterior of the park along Washington Square South(it’s not shown but it will be on the right in this photo). The walls to the offices will be glass and you will be able to view the park personnel working there (and they will be able to view you). On top is a wood trellis – to be constructed with “salvaged Ipe wood” – rainforest wood allegedly being reused, unlike the endangered, virgin Ipe wood used on the benches at the rest of the park – and the balance of the building is steel and stone. The architects (an outside firm hired by the NYC Parks Department) call this building a “pergola.” It looks a bit modern to me and others thought it looked like it belonged in a suburban train station but we’ll see…

This is what went before the Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday. I was unable to attend but hoping to get an update.

Update: LPC hearing did not happen because they did not have a quorum — one of the commissioners is a partner in the architecture firm that designed the above and recused himself. New date to be scheduled.

** Update: this was approved.**

Late 2010: Large Dog Run and Mounds Formerly in Phase II Moved into Phase III.

Landmarks Preservation Commission Meets Tuesday, April 20th Re: Phase III Washington Square Park / New Signage and Building

Pylon Signs - Four will grace Park

Landmarks Preservation Commission to meet Tuesday, April 20th Re: Washington Square Park, Phase III (last phase!)

Item to be discussed: 10-7129 – Block 549, lot 1- Washington Square Park – Greenwich Village Historic District — A public park built in 1826 with subsequent alterations. Application is to construct a new building and install signage.

Time & Location: 4:30 p.m. (note: they suggest being there approx. 3:45 p.m.), 1 Centre Street, 9th floor, Manhattan.

Designs and changes proposed by NYC Parks Department include:

Signage: Pylon signs – outlining WSP history – will be 3 sided, 6 feet 7 inches, with 5 feet of text (a little large, no?).

They will be placed at the Washington Square Arch, the Holley Plaza, the new Garibaldi Plaza, and by Thompson street entrance.

New Building: Bathrooms and Park Administrative building to be combined into one (glass-stone-steel-wood) structure with a trellis on top. I will try to get a photo. (I missed my chance at the meeting on April 7th!)

Community Board 2’s Parks Committee and the Landmarks Committee held the meeting with the Washington Square Park Task Force which featured the Parks Department design presentation of the above earlier this month (April 7th) but I don’t know how they are going to weigh in. Likely they will support it, as designed.

The Landmark Preservation Commission then votes on whether they will approve and if this can move forward since the Park falls within the Greenwich Village Historic District. Some of the LPC’s decisions re: Washington Square Park (notably Phase I – moving of the Fountain and redesign of the Park) have been controversial and politically motivated. (See categories – right side bar – for archived posts related to Landmarks Preservation Commission.)

Prospect Park and the “sad legacy” of public-private “partnerships:” The Brooklyn Paper; Plus Washington Square

Tupper Thomas is the Park administrator at Brooklyn’s beautiful 585 acre Prospect Park but she’s really – at this point- considered the grand dame of the park and credited as being the person who “turned the park around.” She also ushered in, as The Brooklyn Paper points out in an editorial this week, the age of “public-private partnerships,” which current NYC Park Commissioner Adrian Benepe will never turn away from. Thankfully, there are independent media outlets like The Brooklyn Paper, a weekly which covers news in Brooklyn, that see through the rose colored haze of what these entities accomplish and can also take note of the inevitable downside.

Here’s an excerpt from this week’s editorial outlining the “sad legacy” of “public-private partnerships”:

The Brooklyn Paper
Editorial: Tupper Thomas’s sad legacy

April 14, 2010

Yes, when Thomas took over day to day oversight of the park in the 1980s, the place was a shambles, a victim, like so many things in those days, of municipal neglect. There was a Parks Department with a mandate to run the city’s open space, of course, but that agency failed.

Out of that failure came the Faustian bargain offered by the Tupper Thomases of the world: put our struggling public spaces under quasi-public control, set aside some of the normal rules, raise private money from rich people, and we’ll make sure wealthy neighborhoods have a suitable backyard.

Yes, Thomas was indefatigable and seemingly incorruptible. And she was well liked by the very people who should have been doing the job better in the first place. Those personal relationships gave Thomas a level of control that should have simply remained in the hands of officials and politicians who are, at least on paper, accountable to the voters, not their donors.

That’s why we have traditionally been leery of such public-private partnerships. If the city would just do its job, our parks would not need people like Tupper Thomas. Indeed, there would also be no need for business improvement districts or agencies like the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, which are motivated by economic expansion for condo developers, not open-space construction for the public.

At Washington Square, private interests also played a role in the current redesign of this historic park, whether publicly or behind-the-scenes:

— the Bloomberg Administration, NYU, the local Business Improvement District (the warmly named “Village Alliance“), some Community Board 2 Members who manipulated the process, The Tisch Family (donated $2.5 million towards moving, aligning, and renovating the Fountain), and who knows who else all worked to overhaul the old Washington Square Park into the type of park they wanted, catering to a certain type of person they wanted in it.

These people and entities proclaimed publicly to appreciate its free spirited past while in essence obliterating it. This park they strived for (and many would argue attained) is one that would inflate already high real estate values surrounding the park, hopefully improve the “character” of 8th Street for the BID, and give NYU further leeway to take over the Village, and, of course, to continue to consider Washington Square the University “campus.”

It remains to be seen if a private Conservancy (the model now that is used to privately oversee some city parks) — with NYU and the BID having significant influence — will take over Washington Square Park.

Photos: Construction at Washington Square Park April 2010: Phase II Redesign

Some photos of recent construction at Washington Square Park…

WSP Sign NE Corner, Daffodils in Bloom, Construction

Construction, North East

Back View Garibaldi; Looking West

Former Seating Alcove East Side (1 of 2 not being replaced)

Black Squirrel (and Sparrow)

Garbaldi Statue Not Yet Moved

Pigeons Visiting the Fountain

Makeshift Ladies, Mens Room Signs

Photos: Cathryn

Washington Square Park Task Force Meets Tonite; Also, CB2 Parks Committee addresses Friends of the High Line Proposal and Public Hearing on “expressive matter” i.e., art in NYC Parks

The Washington Square Park Task Force and Community Board 2 Parks Committee meet tonite Wednesday, April 7th at 7:15 p.m. to discuss Phase III Washington Square Park redesign. The New York City Parks Department will be presenting a proposed design for the restrooms and Parks’ maintenance building — public comment is welcome.

Prior to that, at 6:30 p.m., the Parks Committee will discuss two other interesting issues. (How they will accomplish this in 45 minutes will be interesting!) These items are:

* Friends of the High Line will present their plan for a maintenance building to be located adjacent to the High Line in CB 2. (Update: This topic has been removed from the agenda.)

* Public hearing on proposed new Parks Department rules regarding vending of “expressive material” in parks.

— If you haven’t been following this, it’s quite controversial. It’s yet another way for the Bloomberg Administration to give private interests continued and additional reign over our parks and will limit artistic diversity and vitality, click here to read yesterday’s New York Times story. It’s not, as the Parks Department is asserting, that the artist vendors are taking up too much room and causing congestion in our parks by any means. To see that, go to Union Square when the GreenMarket is there on Saturdays or during the holiday market which takes up way too much of that public space in December.

Location for the meeting: NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, off Washington Square East, Room 401