Update on Mama Hawk Violet

Latest on Washington Square’s gorgeous Red-tailed hawk Violet whose leg band is now causing her trouble (tho’ official DEC rep continues to deny that is the issue – DEC placed band there) —

Yesterday’s New York Times City Room blog: Violet the Hawk has Worsening leg problems

Roger_Paw blog has pics of Violet and Bobby together from Sunday.

Thanks to @PipTheHawk alerting me via Twitter.

** Previously on WSP Blog, May 13th, 2011: No Intervention right now for Mama Hawk Violet; Rodenticide Seems to be All Removed from Washington Square

The decision not to intervene was always deemed as controversial and a bit political when the DEC – Department of Environmental Conservation – was brought in by NYU vs. following the advice of seasoned wildlife rehabilitators who were already on the scene. A tough call, without a doubt. Comments at the Times site are worth reading.

Wishing Violet the best —

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Photo: Village Chess Shop


Sullivan Street.

The Park At Dawn


Arch pre-Tree!

OWS Occupies Thanksgiving; Free Meals & Festive Atmosphere While Zuccotti Park Uber Restricted and Barricaded

Zuccotti Signage

Double Barricaded

Occupiers at Thanksgiving

NYPD vehicles line Liberty Street

NYPD Surveillance Tower across fm park


Food Line - It's Free!

Vegetarian, vegan, turkey options

Handing out water


Bouncers, uh, Security

NYPD Occupy Thanksgiving

WikiLeaks Truck

Ledges Now Off Limits

NYPD "Community Affairs"



Despite being double barricaded in with only two entry points on the north and south sides of the park, Occupy Wall Street occupied Thanksgiving yesterday at Zuccotti with an overflow of free Thanksgiving meals – turkey, vegetarian and vegan options – (Some of the food was later donated to a church in Upper Manhattan and perhaps elsewhere), a multitude of bottled water, ice cream and dessert.

Unlike the previous set up – pre-raid – where the food was allowed to be laid out inside the park, the food display is now only allowed outside on the sidewalk. Among other things, this ends up not being the most environmentally friendly option – endless bottles of water and pre-packaged trays of food – but the spirit remains lovely and strong.

People say “You can’t evict an idea,” and that is oh so true. And yet, what is so threatening about the alternative society that Occupy Wall Street set up that all physical remnants of it have to be abolished? Now, double barricades surround the entire park. Books, food, and, yesterday, even a banjo are not allowed in. There are bouncers, uh, security at the TWO entry points and the ledges are off limits. No sleeping lying down. In addition to the much publicized no tents and sleeping bags.

A fellow last night tried to bring in a banjo and security attempted to deny him entry. People began chanting “let the banjo in!” and surrounded the space. There was a negotiation; the NYPD got involved and, at last, guy with banjo was allowed in. Mic check was called. A speaker called out “We’d like to thank” … “the NYPD” … “for letting the banjo in.” (Words to that effect.) Amazingly gracious as that would not have been my first inclination feeling it was already crazily restricted (what right did this security have to keep the banjo out to begin with?, my friend asked).

When I first arrived, I spoke to one of the bouncers. I don’t mean that in a dismissive way but that is the feeling that was given off and clearly he identified with the role. I pointedly questioned and criticized the barricades everywhere and the reduction of entrance to the park to two barricaded-in entry points. He said, “Everyone’s complaining. Look at the festive environment you get to go to going in here.” Clearly his attitude was that Brookfield Properties (which “manages” Zuccotti Park) and the city were doing everyone some favor by allowing them there. Then, as if this was a reasonable argument, “If you went to a club, you’d have to go on a line to get in.” “This isn’t a club,” I replied. “It’s a public park.” He began to argue, “It’s not a public park. It’s a private park.” I said, “It is not a private park. It is a privately owned public space.” He stopped the back and forth; he had to agree that was accurate. He then continued on claiming this was all for everyone’s “safety.”

The site is barricaded in with an imposing NYPD tower with cameras bordering the park with NYPD officers and Brookfield-hired “security” checking people coming in and out. A public park? Certainly doesn’t feel like one. A friend of mine commented that “This feels like a prison camp.” Nonetheless, the vibe inside was festive, upbeat and giving.

“You can’t evict an idea.” Indeed.

I wanted to include this last shot although, on first glance, you can’t tell what it is.  The trees at Zuccotti have tags tied on them (similar to ones you might put on a gift) that said “I’m giving…” and people had filled in sentiments on them.

I don’t expect Mayor Michael Bloomberg and those of his ilk in the 1% to understand but I’m sure many of us do. Written on this tag were the words: “I’m giving thanks for OWS. You gave me hope.

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Interesting post here on Occupy Boston and Community Planning.

Previous WSP Blog post: My visit to Zuccotti and Occupy Wall Street October 7, 2011

Interview with Washington Square News

Update 11/29: It’s now on their website here!

I completed an interview with NYU’s daily newspaper, Washington Square News, which appeared last Wednesday (11/16). Their site isn’t set up to have online stories or links so it’s uploaded below.

Holiday Events — Tree Arrives by the Washington Square Arch Monday, November 28th!

Last year's tree

More info on the holiday events at the Park to come but here are the basics:

Monday, November 28th Christmas tree arrives from Vermont by the Arch (at 4 a.m.!) (It’s unclear if it gets decorated that day but swing on by!)

Friday, December 2nd 8 p.m. Washington Square Music Festival Holiday Concert FREE in St. Joseph’s Church, 371 Sixth Avenue

Wednesday, December 7th 6 p.m. Tree-lighting ceremony & caroling

Saturday, Dec. 24th, 5 p.m. Christmas Eve Caroling

What Will Happen Next for Washington Square Park Trees? Four New Arrivals Replace Perpetually Dying Trees Around Fountain

If you were wondering what the Parks Department’s next move would be after all the attention given to the perpetually dying trees that line the Washington Square fountain, it appeared when four new trees were planted mid-last week…

Village Green Zelkova

One of the New Tree Arrivals (West)

New tree

Roots? Drainage?

One in a Million

One of four new trees


When NBC New York featured a segment on this story in late September, the New York City Parks Department told reporter Chris Glorioso:

“We have experienced a series of failed plantings for the Zelkova trees in the area around Washington Square Park’s plaza. We are investigating potential causes of why trees are not surviving here and will conduct soil tests, examine the drainage, and determine if there is a problem with this particular species.”

At the time, Glorioso spoke to an arborist, Ralph Padilla, who stated:

“It was planted incorrectly,” he said after examining the dead tree near the arch. “It was planted too deep.”

“The giveaway is that all trees, before they enter the soil [should] flare out slightly at the base,” he said.

The dead tree near the arch does not flare out at all, Padilla said. He said it was possible that private contractors or parks personnel repeated the mistake by burying the root balls of eight trees too far beneath the soil, suppressing oxygen supply. When roots are submerged too deeply, recent transplants can die. …

My initial reporting on this in 2009 including speaking to a landscape architect at the Park who revealed that the design was inappropriate for the trees’ survival. He stated that the Parks Department would likely not address the issue sufficiently — due to internal politics and not wanting to ruffle the park’s redesigner – and accurately predicted that this pattern of dying trees would happen repeatedly. Eight young trees have died over four years; in two locations, trees have been planted and died three times in a row. These trees all replaced healthy 40 year old trees axed due to the Bloomberg Administration’s symmetrical “vision” of moving the fountain from its historical location 22 feet east to “align” with the Arch.

The way these four new trees are planted looks exactly the same – in fact, the roots look even more submerged. What do you think? Will the arborcide continue?

Inquiries this blog has made to the city Parks Department as to what their assessment revealed have not been responded to.
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Don’t forget this is WSP Blog fundraising week. Help out by responding to my appeal if you like the coverage here. Thank you!

WSP Blog Fundraising Week – An Appeal

If you’re not aware, I’m doing a bit of a fundraising campaign. I can use your help. If you like the coverage you’ve seen here, please contribute.

Your financial help will serve to maintain, improve and support Washington Square Park Blog. Just click below (all major credit cards accepted). Thank you.

Original Post 11/16: WSP Blog Fundraising Appeal

Photos — And Fountain Finally Off!

Friday - fountain off and empty

Arch (look closely - police guarding at left)

Bobby perhaps? Red-tailed hawk flies over the fountain

Policeman guarding ... pigeons?

Downed light eastern entrance to park

In case you missed it, here’s the saga of the perpetually flowing fountain (November 17, 2011).

Sunday Night: Occupy Wall Street, Ani DiFranco, Anaïs Mitchell Occupy Washington Square

Yesterday, Sunday evening 11/20, Washington Square Park:




Carrying large blue and yellow tents on poles, people streamed to the park last night. The colorful tents lit up Washington Square, spreading messages such as “Occupy to Liberate” and”Foreclose on Banks, Not People, and “You Cannot Evict An Idea Whose Time Has Come.”

Via Twitter:

@Cheimonette: 7-7:30 Candlelight Vigil march tonight from Washington Square Park, to find a new space, led and supported by the Council of Elders #ows

A couple of hours later …

Anais Mitchell + friends visit WSP post-Le Poisson Rouge show

Anaïs Mitchell performed last night at Le Poisson Rouge with last minute special guest, Ani Di Franco. After the show, the two singers, joined by audience members and others, marched from the venue on nearby Bleecker Street to WSP, singing along the way. This was around 10… 11 p.m. Nicely, no overbearing police presence.

From Twitter:

@MollyKnefel: Ani DiFranco is marching people to Washington Square Park for an #OWS protest. Leaving from @lprnyc on Bleecker now. Get there!

@ohhheyalana: After her concert, Anais Mitchell led us on a march to Washington Square Park, singing patriotic songs the whole [way]

Photo #1: Josh Harkinson
Photo #2: Matt Creamer
Photo #3: @dlukenelson
Photo #4: Alana Bramhall