Told In Pictures: Phase II Construction Update and Spring at the Park

NYPD Watches Over NW Plaza

Squirrel takes Lunch Break behind Fence

Flowers Bloom

Eastern Side Construction Almost Complete

Private Tour Takes Place of Not Yet Opened Eastern End

[See previous WSP Blog post when this blogger encountered designer George Vellonakis giving another private tour in 2008 during Phase I.]

Petanque Court in Trouble? Sloped?

Commenter Seth thinks the petanque court is improperly designed.

Looking Southwest: Still quite a bit of work to do

Chess Plaza (Projected Completion: Early June. Really?)

Curb At SW Border Awfully Close to Tree's Roots

Daffodils Hanging On Amidst Construction SW Plaza

This Phase 2 Update bumped Parks Update Part 4 ’til Monday Tuesday Wednesday or Thursday!

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Seen On the Fountain Plaza

Tic Tac Toe

(Fun & ) Games on the New Fountain Plaza.

Flyers Abound for Saturday, April 30th Hospital Rally Around Village

Seen In Window of Lifethyme Natural Foods on Sixth Avenue

Seen in Vacant Greenwich Avenue Storefront

The once-unfathomable idea that a high-profile hospital in an affluent Manhattan neighborhood would be allowed to close had become reality. The hospital’s venerable history—over 160 years, it had treated victims of the Titanic,the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, the AIDS epidemic, and 9/11—had not saved it. Nor had its location as the only hospital on Manhattan’s West Side below 59th Street. St. Vincent’s failure left 3,500 employees jobless and 200,000 New Yorkers without their nearest hospital.

St. Vincent’s plight has been portrayed by public officials and the media as a story of local misfortune—a community losing a vital piece of its infrastructure and a centerpiece of its identity to a combination of mismanagement, the recession, and bad luck. The truth, though, is considerably more alarming.

— From New York Magazine “Why St. Vincent’s is the Lehman Brothers of Hospitals,” Oct. 2010.

Rally to Demand a Hospital will take place Saturday, April 30th, 2 p.m., at 7th Avenue & 12th Street, site of St. Vincent’s.

Filming Around Washington Square Today & Tomorrow

20th Century Fox Untitled Project Filming Friday 4/29 Wash Sq North

HBO's How to Make it in America Filming Today Wash Square West

Tulips on Hudson Street


West Village, Outside Bleecker Playground (subject of an upcoming post!).

Video from Friday’s Earth Day Action at the Park

Superb video of Friday’s Earth Day Action — nicely edited, concise, fun to watch – and all set to music!
http://vimeo.com/22769441

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The previous WSP Blog post on this action, “For Earth Day, Banner Launched Via Balloons At Washington Square Arch to Protest Use of Rainforest Wood In New Park Benches” was linked to by Forbes (under “billionaires” and tagged “Michael Bloomberg”), Tree Hugger and USA Today!

Hawks’ Nest Across from the Park: Violet & Bobby Update

Bobby in the nest with Washington Square Park beneath

4/26 – people are keeping watch. eggs are about to hatch!

The New York Times is updating regularly (almost incredibly so) about the two hawks – named “Bobby and Violet” – and their nest across from Washington Square Park as the hatching of the 3 eggs is awaited.

The hawks set up their nest right outside NYU President John Sexton’s office (what are the chances?) at the Bobst Library on Washington Square South who certainly turned it into a publicity opportunity – video, Twitter account @NYUredtailhawks, and all.

The Latest On Violet & Bobby at the New York Times.

Previous WSP Blog Post: Hawks Set Up Nest Around the Park — “Violet & Bobby” VideoCam Watch

Photo: Christopher James/NYU

For Earth Day, Banner Launched Via Balloons At Washington Square Arch to Protest Use of Rainforest Wood In New Park Benches


Environmental activists took to Washington Square Park on Friday, Earth Day, with a flamboyant action in which large, colorful, helium-filled balloons ascended to the top of the Arch with a banner proclaiming, “Mayor Bloomberg: Why was the Amazon logged for Wash. Square Park Benches?” The new benches at Washington Square, installed as part of the Park’s “multi-million renovation,” are harvested from Ipe wood, a tropical hardwood logged from the Amazon rainforest. This usage goes against pledges made, according to organizer of the event, Rainforest Relief, over 3 years ago by the NYC Parks Department and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to stop its use in city construction.

From Rainforest Relief and NY Climate Action Group:

This ongoing use of ipê contradicts the pledge that Mayor Bloomberg made to United Nations General Assembly on February 11, 2008: “Our City’s agencies will immediately reduce their use of tropical hardwoods by 20%. They will do that by specifying domestic wood, recycled plastic lumber, and other materials in the design of park benches and other construction projects.” He was following the lead of the Parks Department, which had declared an end to the use of tropical hardwoods for bench construction in late 2007.

The ipê wood can be found in new construction at the High Line Park, Union Square, Hudson River Park, & Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The organizations made a statement about the impacts of privatization of our public space:

[These parks] are also part of a larger trend occurring throughout the city: duties and responsibilities concerning public space are largely being transferred from public agencies to private entities such as business improvement districts and public benefit corporations. These entities are assemblages of private investors and stakeholders who operate without public oversight.

The Village Alliance, a business improvement district, had substantial sway concerning both the redesign of Washington Square Park as well as its maintenance.

“The privatization of NYC’s public space is allowing the city’s destruction of the Amazon to continue unchallenged,” stated Tim Doody, the New York City campaign coordinator for Rainforest Relief.

Photo of old Washington Square benches here.

Stacy Walsh Rosenstock commented at the time of that post: Isn’t the 1934 World’s Fair Bench, designed by Robert Moses and Kenneth Lynch, a New York City classic? Why would we ever choose to use some earth-hostile imitation?

As for the new benches, I hear repeatedly from people that the new benches are uncomfortable and they liked the old ones just fine. Perhaps promises could have been kept and that rainforest could have been left alone after all?

** More on the action which took place yesterday (Friday, April 22nd) around noon here. **

Photos: http://rfny.net

L.A. “Ready to Roll” for Earthquake. Is NYC? Seismometer To Be Placed Under Washington Square Park to Measure “Potential Damage”

Banner Along Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills

Los Angeles has designated April Earthquake Preparedness Month and the city recently unveiled new banners that certainly, uh, get your attention. Planted in Beverly Hills, they read: “When it rocks, are you ready to roll?The New York Times has the story.

Is New York City prepared for an earthquake? Concern seems warranted as it appears we may be 17 years overdue.

NYU daily Washington Square News spoke to experts on the matter and reports that Columbia University will install a seismometer under Washington Square Park this summer to “assess the potential damage caused if a big earthquake were to hit New York.”

“New York is much less well-prepared for earthquakes than Japan,” John Armbrust, a Columbia seismology professor, said, comparing the potential consequences of a quake in the city with the challenges Japan faced after it was hit by a 9.0 earthquake in March.

In a study published in 2008, Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory warned that New York City should expect an earthquake every 100 years. The most recent major earthquake hit in 1884.

They might want to measure activity under the Washington Square Fountain. The relatively new structure, installed during Phase I Redesign in 2009, is already looking a little shaky. Could that be due to tremors or more likely faulty construction?

Pt 4 on Parks Coming Next Week…

Early in the week … Check back!