Pip, Young Red-Tailed Hawk, Getting Ready to Leave the Nest above Washington Square!

It could be any day now. Pip, child of neighborhood hawks Violet and Bobby, has been doing flying motions, flapping his wings, and is almost ready to leave the nest (outside NYU President John Sexton’s office – again, what are the chances?). Young birds – from sparrows to pigeons – sometimes get down on the ground and out of the nest a wee bit early and then it’s always interesting, as a human who encounters them, figuring out how, when, and if, we intervene. (Probably a bit different with a hawk.)

Violet and Pip around June 5th

Pip Flapping His Wings, Sunday

Precious Pip, June 18th, 2011

New York Times City Room reports 6/19:

Sometime very soon — perhaps in a few days, maybe a week — Pip the red-tailed hawk will take a few more practice flapping hops, face the great wide world and, on untested wings, soar off the ledge where she has spent the first six weeks of life.

There is a good chance that she will never return.

Pip, as you may know, is the child reality-Web-TV star of City Room’s Hawk Cam, whose fast-forward metamorphosis from cottony puff pile to gawky adolescent outside a 12th-floor window at New York University has unfolded before a global audience. (Pip’s sex remains unknown, but by falconers’ convention, unsexed raptors are referred to as female).

He’s gotten so big! (I’ve always thought of Pip as a boy.) Tho’ the Times states: “Most fledglings starve to death during their first summer — Bobby and Pip’s mother, Violet, will leave dead rats in tree crotches for her for a few weeks, in part to keep her alive, and in part to keep her from boomeranging back to the nest. But by August or so, if Pip cannot find her own prey, she’s out of luck. Such are the ways of the wild.”

I think Pip will make it.

When Pip does fly, any day now, it’s going to be quite the occasion as he may land in a Washington Square Park tree. Look out, squirrels!

(I hadn’t written about Violet, Bobby and Pip since May 27th. So much else going on, with the Eastern side of the Park at last opening and all!)


Photos #1 & 3: Bruce D. Yolton, Urban Hawks Blog

Photo #2: Heather Alonzo/Roger_Paw blog

Washington Square Fragrant Linden Tree in Full Bloom in Eastern Quadrant

The fragrant Linden Tree

If you walk from the fountain east, at the intersection where a fork occurs in the road and the pathway veers south, there is a huge Linden tree. Right now, it’s flowering and the flowers emit the most beautiful smell. The flowers don’t last that long so check it out soon.

I was walking by and looking around for where the fragrance was coming from and then looked up and realized that tree is a Linden tree. I don’t know if there is more than one Linden tree in the park.

More on Linden Trees (genus: Tilia) from Wikipedia:

On healing: The flowers are used for herbal tea and tinctures; this kind of use is particularly popular in Europe and also used in North American herbal medicine practices.

In Germanic mythology: Originally, local communities assembled not only to celebrate and dance under a Tilia tree, but to hold their judicial thing (governing assembly) meetings there in order to restore justice and peace. It was believed that the tree would help unearth the truth.

Friday Night on The Plaza

Film Cancelled (but it didn't rain again after all)

The Fountain - On!

FDNY Ambulance by the Arch briefly

Lonely Garibaldi

Scene: The Fountain Last Friday Night at Sunset

FILM CANCELLED DUE TO EXPECTED RAIN Tonight at the park —  “Films on the Green” – Free French Films – 8:30 p.m. featuring director Eric Rohmer’s “A Summer’s Tale.”

Photo: Esther S. Kim (blog for ladies!)

Thomas Wesley Stern Engages with Music from New EP at the Arch

Thomas Wesley Stern debuts New EP at the Arch

New Jersey-based foursome Thomas Wesley Stern performed at the Arch Monday right after the Mike Myers-Mario Batali ping pong match and attracted quite a crowd. They came to Washington Square with their new EP, “Hope Folk,” hot off the presses.


Commenter Dana Clayton wrote quite accurately of the band on iTunes: “Infectious happiness. They have such a unique way with words, melody and harmony. If you get to see them in person they are all Good Energy!”

The band was a big hit with park goers, from the very, very young to a bit older.

Perhaps they’ll make their way back to Washington Square one day soon.

— Find Thomas Wesley Stern on Facebook.

What is going on with the Washington Square Park Fountain?

Yesterday, Fountain Off

What’s going on with the Fountain? Erratic hours, turning off at 7 p.m. (it’s supposed to stay on ’til 11); sometimes not on at 11 a.m. in the morning lately. Yesterday, a reader reports it was not on AT ALL as of 1 p.m. and then again at 5 so off all day?

Is this another effect of Parks Department budget problems or the overblown redesign? Pick one. While the department spends $35 MILLION on Washington Square Park Phases I, II and III, it appears either the agency had bad construction work done or can’t maintain consistent hours. The fountain has been a part of the park experience for years.

4 weeks ago

The Washington Square Park fountain went under construction during Phase I of Washington Square Park’s redesign. Under the Bloomberg Administration’s directive, it was moved 23 feet east to align with the Arch and was reconstructed from scratch; unveiled to the public in 2009. It recently went under repair on May 16th for about 2 weeks before it reopened to the public in time for the Eastern side of the Park’s opening (Phase II-A) on June 2nd.

Previous WSP Blog Post (May 16th): Is the New Washington Square Park Fountain Falling Apart?

Mike Myers and Mario Batali Film Atop the Washington Square Arch

Updated June 15th, 9:59 a.m.How does one get access to the top of the Washington Square Arch? A few months back, a Wall Street Journal reporter gained access. But a tv show or commercial? Yesterday, I looked up to see people atop the Arch! Not realizing at the time those people being filmed were actor Mike Myers and chef Mario Batali (they later played ping pong together on the Plaza). The filming was apparently done for some Mario Batali venture. According to Pam Levy, Batali’s publicist, it is for “a private Internet webisode project.” She added: “I can’t tell you anything more than that at this point.”

Mike Myers and Mario Batali wave (tho' no one seems to notice!)

Men Guarding Entrance to the Arch

Mike Myers Looks Pensive (Imagine the view!)

The full picture

Picture at left captures the ping pong part of Myers’ and Batali’s venture to Washington Square. Not sure how it all works together.

I wrote to Batali’s publicist and the Parks Department for additional information (Parks Dept. has not responded as of Wed. a.m.).

Questions such as: What were the arrangements and terms under which Mario Batali filmed on the Plaza and was able to enter and film within/from the Arch? If financial, what was the amount agreed to?

Has Mario Batali given money towards Washington Square Park in the past and/or pledged money in the future towards maintaining, renovating, or some other aspect of the Park? (WSP Blog Note: Batali was in photos with City officials when Phase I opening ceremony occurred.)

And, of course, how does the Parks Department determine who is allowed access to the Arch?

As Batali was walking away from the ping pong table, he said to the people gathered around: “support and give money to the Washington Square Park Foundation.” An organization, to my knowledge, that does not exist.

Batali runs a host of restaurants in the neighborhood and his “GelOtto” vending cart recently appeared in the NorthWest corner of the Park.

Photos: Cathryn.

Washington Square Park Dog Run Flooding Ignored; Rainwater and Restroom “Runoff” Creating Disease-Producing Conditions

Gothamist reports on the status of the Washington Square Park Dog Run after a reader informed the site that a combination of rain and “runoff from the adjacent restrooms” was causing a huge flood in the middle of the dog run. The reader wrote:

Backed up drain from restroom filling the run, mosquitos everywhere, hookworm and giardia epidemics. This is crazy, where are our dogs supposed to go and why doesn’t the city care about this diseased cesspool in the middle of Washington Square Park?

I don’t venture into the Dog Run much but this situation sounds beyond horrible; yet fixable and in need of priority attention.

A commenter (“washingtonsquareparksucks” – hmm…) at the site wrote:

The dog run has been like this for over a month. There have absolutely been sick dogs with hookworm and giardia. One vet said he saw five cases in one day and they all were dogs who attend this run. It is a shame that the entire park has had a facelift and the dog run has become a festering waste.

As a dog walker with over 25 dogs a day to exercise there is no way I would bring my clients animals in there. This is a disgrace. The park manager Becky has supposedly tried to get a city plumber but to no avail. She has also been spread thin because of budget cuts and is now managing Union Square Park and Washington Square Park making her unavailable to really prioritize this issue. The dog park manager Pat has blown this issue off because she is frustrated with the whole remodel and never being able to get anything done via the parks department.  Village residents are disgusted and have been campaigning everyone to call 311. We all know how that effective that is… useless. PLEASE FIX OUR DOG RUN!

So, does this further confirm the fact that the city’s Parks Department, under Commissioner Adrian Benepe, entirely has its priorities backwards? Parks are being overhauled left and right (Union Square, Washington Square, Prospect Park, the High Line) with no regard to how to upkeep them – during or afterwards.

Where is the City Council? Where is Margaret Chin? (It’s her district but she’s been profoundly low key unlike her predecessor Alan Gerson, who may not have been perfect, but was responsive in his own way.) How is there NO oversight?

Falling Trees at WSP

NYC had a bit of a storm Thursday evening and this tree along the park’s perimeter at Washington Square North came down. It’s still there as of today, Monday. Not sure what the timing of tree removal – or tree trimming – is for the City’s Parks Department. Many trees at the park need some attention. At Central Park, there have been serious tragedies due to trees not being properly attended to.

Fallen Tree, Washington Square North


Saturday at Washington Square: Festival of India (Updated)

Updated June 13th, 1:55 p.m.

Bhagavad Gita

Washington Square East - Food by Donation

Yesterday, a rainy Saturday, is when Festival of India took over much of Washington Square around the Arch and the Eastern side. Quite festive and well attended. Information booths, food (by donation only), exhibits, small lectures, and phrases from the Bhagavad Gita were sprinkled throughout the Park.

Photos: Cathryn.