Inside the Arch

Great shot!

Photo by Park Slope Lens

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NYU’s “Marketing of Washington Square” equals $$

In this week’s Villager, an interesting “Talking Point” by Martin Tessler entitled: “Washington Square: N.Y.U.’s link to 2031 pot of gold.” In it, Tessler explores how recent articles on N.Y.U’s surge in applications and enrollment “unveil a unique financial gamesmanship that N.Y.U. has been pursuing in marketing Washington Square to hopeful applicants over the globe.”

Tessler outlines that the university received 42,242 applications for the 2015 class vying for 4,800 places which adds up to 36,200 applicant rejections. Each applicant pays a $70 application fee which is non refundable. This alone totals $2, 534,000 revenue for the University. (Washington Square News, NYU’s daily campus newspaper, reported the number of applicants at 41,058 for the “Washington Square Campus.”)

From the article:

It does not take a professor from N.Y.U.’s esteemed Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences to comprehend how the magic of a Washington Square location is generating $2.5 million in annual income for N.Y.U. Who needs the stock market when the time-honored real estate investor’s dictum of “Location, Location, Location” is paying gigantic dividends for an institution that pays no taxes on its noncommercial property? Similarly, it does not take a professor of finance from N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business to comprehend that N.Y.U. has a major financial interest in perpetuating a wide-ranging growth model centering on Washington Square.

In addition, NYU’s 2031 Plan “delineates an area around Washington Square that it calls its ‘Core’ and a surrounding area beyond that it designates as its ‘Neighborhood.'”

Tessler assesses: “The social and physical cost of this transmutation to the Washington Square neighborhood has had an impact on the surrounding residential neighborhood where Washington Square Park and landmark buildings, such as Judson Memorial Church, are being overshadowed by hulking institutional buildings.”

Tessler ends the piece by imploring local community members to contact their local representatives and speak out against NYU’s 2031 plan and the university’s quest to further dominate the Washington Square/Greenwich Village area.

Living in New York, I’m sure you’ve noted how it is close to impossible to escape NYU advertising which, in its catalogs, on the subway, in print and elsewhere, utilize the Washington Square Arch to no end (sometimes there’s only just a snippet but it’s almost always there).

You can read the full piece in The Villager here.

Washington Square Literary Journal Reading Series Event Tonite, Saturday, February 26th, Free, Near the Square

Washington Square Literary Journal, the journal edited by graduate students at NYU in the Creative Writing Program, has a lively and active reading series. The events are hosted primarily in locations around Washington Square. Upcoming schedule here.

Tonight, Saturday, February 26th, at 7 p.m., they will be celebrating the release of the Winter/Spring 2011 issue of the new edition of Washington Square. The event is free, open to the public and there will be beer provided by the Brooklyn Brewery, co-sponsor of the event!

Featured readings by contributors Timothy Donnelly, Deborah Landau, and Adam Wilson.

Location: Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, 58 West 10th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues

Getting there by train: A, B, C, D, E, F to West 4th Street-Washington Square

3rd Anniversary of this blog; The first post: The Magical Park

(Updated) Tomorrow, February 26th marks three years since this blog began. I really don’t know what I expected when I first started – I find sometimes it’s better, when you venture into something new, to just jump in and figure it out as you go along. I remember at the 1 year anniversary I thought of stopping, and now, somehow, it’s THREE YEARS of blogging. I always feel it’s sad when people abandon their blogs but I do understand how that happens.

On WSP Blog anniversary’s year 1 and year 2, I wrote long missives. This year, I’ve reposted the very first post. Re-reading the early posts, sometimes I cringe a little; I feel some could use some tweaking. I think I’ve gotten better, through writing this blog regularly, at researching, framing, and outlining issues. That’s helped me in other areas and I’m thankful for that. Plus I got to know and appreciate the park so much better over all this time and also New York City in general. There have been 561 posts over these three years; 562 including this one! (The first year and a half I posted basically every day.) Thanks always for stopping by.

– Cathryn.

I edited this post just a little:

The Magical Park

When I first became involved with the issue of the proposed redesign of Washington Square Park, someone I met referred to the park as “magical.” It took me awhile actually to see that. Certainly, I’d been to Washington Square Park over the years. I’d sat and listened to music or watched strange happenings within the fountain. I’d marveled at the almost laid back ’60’s bohemian feeling the park retained, co-existing amongst college students, chess players, old-timers, newbies, dog walkers, families, tourists. Every type person coexists and intermingles within Washington Square Park.

My revived interest in the Park, in relation to the massive changes and radical overhaul the City has planned for it, occurred late last year (December ’07) out of concern for the cutting down of the trees; what that would mean for the wildlife in the Park.

As I looked closer, I realized what was going to be taken away by these mysterious, suddenly “necessary” changes — changes that would affect the whole essence of the Park and the things that make it work: those inexplicable factors which make it such a special place for so many people. To set out to change that seemed to me an extension of the long arm of gentrification and homogenization of our city by our current Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It then became even more important to oppose these changes and advocate for something different. This blog is my attempt to document what I’ve learned in a short time and share that information.

Originally posted February 26, 2008

History of the Washington Square Arch & “Exitus Acta Probat”

* Recycled entry for George Washington’s Birthday *

On each side of the famous Washington Square Arch stands George Washington in two distinct poses at its pedestal: Washington At War on the East side and Washington At Peace on the West. The Arch was designed by noted period architect Stanford White (1853-1906).

Originally built in wood for the Centennial of Washington’s inauguration in 1889, it stood half a block away. It was then commissioned in marble and completed in its current location in the early 1890’s.

Of the Washington At War statue, Emily Kies Folpe, in her book, “It Happened on Washington Square,” wrote that the sculptor, Herman A. Mac Neil, wanted the statue “to appear alert and intent, as if watching the maneuvers of his army.” Looking on are the figures of Fame and Valor.

Pictured above is Washington At Peace (A. Stirling Calder) with figures of Wisdom and Justice behind him. Wisdom stands there as “the modern Athena” – Greek goddess of wisdom. Folpe writes, “Justice, draped and crowned, holding a balanced set of scales with one hand and an open book in the other. The pages of the book are inscribed with the words Exitus acta probat.’ ”

Exitus acta probat is taken from the George Washington Family Coat of Arms. It is Latin and I’ve come across various ways of interpreting it, all similar but slight variations. The basic translation is: the outcome justifies the deed.

It’s the pairing of that statement with the figure of Justice that puzzles me. I like to think at Washington Square Park that ultimately there will be some kind of ‘Justice’ in the outcome of the redesign of the Park. Is there some missing deed?

Of course, Stanford White’s “outcome” was a little bit jarring. He was shot on the roof of the Madison Square Garden building, the second incarnation of the building (no longer there) which he also designed, by the husband of an ex-lover.

** Recently, a commenter named Hugh wrote in clarifying with the following information:

The outcome justifying the deed that Washington was referring to was the Revolutionary war. No one wanted war then, not only was it near suicide for all who opposed the English, but also, war causes a lot of death which is also something that he didn’t want, however, if the end result was freedom and liberty, then a horrible deed such as war is in fact justified. It shows that Washington believed that unless the outcome is justified, then the deed should not be done.

Piece originally published April 3, 2008; this is an edited version.

Two Recent Attacks At Washington Square

I noted last week how empty Washington Square Park was as I walked there but at no time did I feel nervous walking through. Yet, A Walk In the Park Blog reports that two people (one a Parks Department employee) have been attacked in the last month in Washington Square, one attack occurred last week.

On February 10th, a Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officer patrolling the park was assaulted, and, a few weeks prior, a tourist was apparently attacked in the men’s room. People leaving comments at A Walk in the Park Blog have stated how “dangerous” they believe Washington Square Park is and suggested that the New York City Parks Department is keeping these incidents quiet.

With redesigned Phase I in place and the other three Quadrants of the Park closed for Phase II (and now, also Phase III) reconstruction, IS Washington Square Park dangerous now?

From A Walk In the Park Blog:

New details have emerged in the attack of a female Park Enforcement Officer (PEP) in Washington Square Park on Thursday, February 10th. PEP Officer Brooks was attacked by a homeless male described as an emotionally disturbed person (EDP) at approximately 11:30am.

The officer, working solo, was sitting in a vehicle when she was approached by multiple park patrons complaining of man harassing people in the park, according to city sources.

The man was reportedly going up to people making gestures like he was going to hit them. One patron said “Hey this guy is going to hurt somebody, you have to say something to this guy. “

The piece continues, reporting that the officer, a female, told the man to stop; he approached her and was “irate.” The officer called for back-up which did not arrive in time to assist her. No one from the public intervened. After some words, the man kicked her in the stomach and then fled the park.

In addition, A Walk in the Park writes of the other attack at the park:

This incident follows a vicious assault on a tourist by an EDP in the men’s bathroom a few weeks earlier in the park. The tourist, believed to be French, was punched in the face and left bloodied, and knocked out on the floor. The assailant is reportedly a park regular. No arrests have been made in that incident either. – Geoffrey Croft

This brings up a lot of questions: Are these isolated incidents? Is having 3/4 of the park closed at one time leading to a more insecure and vulnerable situation there? Has the climate of “safety” in the city changed in general? Are other parks experiencing this?

Scene at Washington Square Yesterday


Scene at Washington Square yesterday, empty at that moment, except for a lone guy walking around the Fountain and I Love LA mug left behind.
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(Yes, technically on a blog break ’til 2/25 but look for some other posts forthcoming.)

Washington Square Park Redesign: Phase II — Progress & Cost Update

To keep you up to date with the latest

Despite initial reports that a section of Washington Square Park Redesign: Phase II would open in December 2010 (I always doubted that), what is now Phase II – specifically the Northeast & Southeast Quadrants and no longer including the Mounds and large Dog Run on the southern side – will open Spring 2011. The original scheduled completion date was Fall 2010. (More on delays here.)

The corrected signs around the park reflect this and it has been confirmed by the city’s Parks Department. I’ve heard most likely April will be the formal unveiling. You might recall that Phase I had a “soft” opening in May 2009 and was open for a week and a half before a grand opening ceremony was held with the Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former Council Member Alan Gerson, et al.

Final cost for Phase II?

According to the Parks Department, it is estimated that the cost for Phase II will come in completed at around $8 million. The middle phase of the park’s reconstruction has now been revised from the original design plans. Sections, including the large dog run and Mounds (I’m unclear if Chess area is included — will update Chess area still part of Phase II), have been reallocated into Phase III, likely to break ground in the Fall 2011, if not later.

A little recap of finances related to the Park’s project:

Phase I NW Quadrant + Fountain Plaza (cost): $16 million
Phase II NE & SE Quadrants + Chess Area (estimate): $8 million
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Phase I & II = $24 million at least (estimated)

Phase III cost : unknown

What we do know is that Phase III’s forthcoming “pergola” — which will house the long awaited upgraded restrooms and Park administrative offices — will, according to a report in the New York Post, cost about $4 million.

Still incomplete, we’re at $28 million.

The entire controversial project, Washington Square Park redesigned Phases I, II and III, was initially budgeted for – and given the green light at – $16 million. Once completed, we’re now looking at Phases I, II and III reaching $30-$35 million & likely higher.

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** Note: WSP Blog new entries will resume February 25th. If something new develops; I will post so check back now and again. **