It’s the Prime of Summer 2011 – Is Something (New) Wrong with the Washington Square Fountain?

Updated 4:45 p.m.

Opening Day Phase I - May 2009

Fountain Now, Summer 2011

Fountain, No Side Water Plumes, August 2011

In mid-May of this year, the new Washington Square Park fountain went under repair for two or so weeks. As part of the Bloomberg Administration’s redesign of the park, the famous fountain, in its previous location since 1871, was moved 22 feet east to align with the Arch. It is now a little over two years old. The “new” fountain was unveiled in May 2009 and is pictured at top at the opening of Washington Square Park Redesign: Phase I. The fountain was rebuilt from scratch using the stones from the previous structure. The “old” fountain was eighty years old — according to documents I unearthed recently, written by former City Council Member Alan Gersonand still working.

The fountain has side plumes or “jets” that spout water from them. They were working up until June of this year but they are currently not working and haven’t been for over a month. It’s unclear if the issue is (again) related to the construction or to perhaps maintenance of the Washington Square fountain.

Opening Ceremony Phase I 2009 - Side Jets Working

In June -- Plumes Still Working

The plume source -- Now

If you visit the fountain, the experience is somewhat lessened to say the least. It’s perplexing what the exact problem is. (I wrote to the Parks Department Press Office but did not receive an answer on this.)

Will this latest issue be acknowledged, addressed and fixed at some point? Much money and resources were used to dismantle, relocate, align and reconstruct the Washington Square Park Fountain. You’d imagine, at a major city park, in the prime of summer, that those side water jets on a virtually new structure would be working for the public’s enjoyment and use. If something is wrong – which appears to be the case – what could it be?

* * *

On a side note: Yesterday the fountain was drained and cleared of bottles that accumulate underneath it and cause problems and are of a concern to people wading IN the fountain. (Note: this is not the cause of the plumes not working!) I gather later in the evening people are leaving bottles in there. I don’t know if those people read my blog (!) but, if you see someone doing so, perhaps ask them to clean up a bit! There’s also handily now recycling for bottles and cans at the park. Someone just wrote in about seeing cigarette butts in the fountain as well. The Parks Department without a doubt has its issues but we do all need to respect the space that we are using and share.

** Previous WSP Blog Post from May 16th, 2011: Is the New Washington Square Park Fountain Falling Apart? Fountain Now Under Wraps

Photos: Cathryn

Leave a comment


  1. Littering in a park is really difficult to understand. How could someone be in the park and enjoying it and then decide to leave litter?

  2. Linda Linguvic

     /  August 11, 2011

    I’ve noticed the plumes missing too. What a shame.

  3. Georgia

     /  August 14, 2011

    I have noticed the missing plumes – the fountain display is diminished without them. Thank you for reporting on this matter.

    Also, we no longer go into the fountain. Sometimes the water is green, smelly, and there is litter, which may or may not pose a hazard.

  4. Hi Monica, Good question! I think people litter because they feel alienated from the space and aren’t recognizing that it IS a space, are not really thinking of any long term repercussion or about the environment or others … just about what *they* are experiencing right then. Whereas, when most of us go to a park, we’re entering feeling in a relatively healthy space. That’s what I’d surmise. It doesn’t mean that can’t change —

    Linda, it is a shame. Especially hard to figure if there’s any plan to correct it. Now would be the time.

    Georgia, You’re welcome. It’s true, the fountain display *is* diminished. You’re right about the water in the fountain. I also have noticed it often being an odd shade of green and at times smelly.

    This may also be related to the missing plumes.

    More to come —


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