Washington Square Fountain Often Left On To Deter “Protester” Use?

It’s past the time of year when the Washington Square fountain is typically shut off and yet, up until this morning, the fountain has been on – presumably to deter protester use of it. The fountain – when not on and also empty – has traditionally been used as a gathering space and a place for, yes, protest. The Bloomberg Administration is apparently so worried of that usage that the fountain is often left on in the rain, and long after the park’s water fountains have been shut off. (When it’s not on, water is left within it to discourage usage.)

Here are photos from yesterday – the NYPD preparation for Arundhati Roy’s scheduled visit to the park (it was moved inside to Judson Church due to rain). Fountain was on this morning but is off as of now (3 p.m.).

NYPD on the Fountain Plaza

NYPD - TARU: Technical Assistance Response Unit






NYPD TARU = Technical Assistance Research Unit.

I love seeing the fountain on but it’s getting a bit ridiculous. At least, the Arch is no longer barricaded.

Video of Arundhati Roy at People’s University yesterday.

** If you like this and other WSP Blog coverage, please contribute during Fundraising Week –  this blogger is trying to raise some funds! **

Washington Square Park 6 A.M. Tuesday 11/15 (Photos)

Washington Square, 6 A.M. Tuesday 11/15, hours after Occupy Wall Street Zuccotti Park-based movement ousted:

The Arch At Dawn

Morning / Fall at the Park

Fountain Plaza

Judson Church Washington Square South

Judson Supports Occupy Wall Street

Looking North - Park Empty

SouthEast Entrance to Park Barely Open

I fixed that

Photos: Cathryn

WSP Blog Fundraising Apppeal

Funds Needed ** to Keep This Blog Going

(Updated) I know we all read blogs and consider them ‘free’ and maybe we take them for granted at times. I’m sure I have! However, I’m sending out a request to help keep this blog going. Your financial help will serve to maintain, improve and support Washington Square Park Blog.

It’s been 3 years and 9 months since I started the Washington Square Park Blog — it has not only covered the redesign of the park, ongoing events and its history and also documented issues relating to NYC, other public spaces, and the city’s attempts to increasingly privatize them.

It’s been a lot of work (there are 757 posts here!) and gratifying in many ways. This blog has broken stories and drawn attention to issues around Washington Square Park and New York City that would not be covered elsewhere in our increasingly corporatized mainstream media.

You can PayPal cathrynbe-at-earthlink.net or click button below. It’s quite easy and quick and all major credit cards – Amex, Visa, Mastercard, Discover – work.

Thank you —

Cathryn
WSP Blog

Bloomberg’s Controlling Nature Blacks Out Media Coverage of OWS Middle-of-the-Night Ouster; Reassessing Use of our Parks, Public Spaces

City Park Duarte Square - Canal & 6th Yesterday

The media today and yesterday is focused on looking at Occupy Wall Street every which way. The orchestrated middle-of-the-night ousting of Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park by Mayor Michael Bloomberg raises so many questions but here’s a few:

In today’s cities, should there be places people can mobilize from 24-7 if needed? Who decides? Perhaps the pure definition of public space and its usage needs to be revised. Our parks have become about rules and control vs. being actual public spaces geared to what people want. There needs to be a balance and currently it’s tipped too much one way, as we see again and again.

Then, there are large overarching questions about Bloomberg’s decision to shut down media coverage of what went down – as it happened. I understand it was not particularly convenient for him if there were images and reporters on site recording his NYPD in action. But does that mean he shuts it down? And is allowed to, with no repercussions? Yet, again he shows his controlling nature while spouting his great love of democracy.

Thankfully, Judson Church, across from the park, stepped in – in the middle of the night – and offered shelter space to those ousted from Zuccotti and again last night. I stopped by yesterday morning and it was very heartening to see the space opened and welcoming to those who needed it.

Some snapshots from the media coverage (more photos from yesterday coming) —

From Daily Kos via Reader Supported News: Media Blackout on Mayor’s Raid on Zuccotti Park” 11/15:

When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to stage a middle of the night raid on the Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park, there was one thing he didn’t want … media coverage. So Bloomberg said screw the First Amendment:

New York Observer Politics Reporter Hunter Walker:

I was blocked from viewing nypd raid at #occupywallstreet along with reporters from cnbc, nbc, cbs, wsj and reuters #mediablackout

New York Times Reporter Brian Stelter:

I’m w/ a NY Post reporter who says he was roughed up by riot police as Zuccotti was cleared. He thinks violence was “completely deliberate.”

Mother Jones reporter Josh Harkinson:

Cops just violently shoved me away as I tried to shoot this man in a stretcher being loaded into ambulance http://twitpic.com/7efa2v

And from the gothamist:

During our coverage of the eviction of the Occupy Wall Street protesters early this morning, a NPR reporter, a New York Times reporter, and a city councilmember were arrested. Airspace in Lower Manhattan was closed to CBS and NBC news choppers by the NYPD, a New York Post reporter was allegedly put in a “choke hold” by the police, a NBC reporter’s press pass was confiscated and a large group of reporters and protesters were hit with pepper spray. According to the eviction notice, the park was merely “cleaned and restored for its intended use.” If this is the case, why were so few people permitted to view it?

Empty Zuccotti Yesterday A.M. Pigeons & Men in Yellow - Before Being Re-Occupied

New York Times, Beyond Seizing Parks, New Paths to Influence11/15:

In New York, where the police temporarily evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park early Tuesday, and in other cities, dozens of organizers maintained that the movement had already reshaped the public debate. They said it no longer needed to rely solely on seizing parks, demonstrating in front of the homes of billionaires or performing other acts of street theater.

“We poured a tremendous amount of resources into defending a park that was nearly symbolic,” said Han Shan, an Occupy Wall Street activist in New York. “I think the movement has shown it transcends geography.”

Dr. [William] Galston [a senior fellow in governance at the Brookings Institution], predicted that though protesters across the country were being pushed out of their encampments, their issues would endure.

“The underlying reality to which the movement has called attention is too big, too pervasive, too important to go away,” he said.

New York Times, Zuccotti Park Largely Unoccupied and Quiet 11/16:

Many protesters, however, did not stay at the park.

At Judson Memorial Church, across the street from Washington Square Park, about 60 protesters were sprawled out on blankets in the church’s lower parish hall, said Lisel Burns, a volunteer there.

“They came in all night,” Ms. Burns said. “Some were so tired they just fell right asleep.”

The Guardian, “Occupy Wall Street: You Can’t Evict an Idea Whose Time Has Come” (Statement) 11/15:

This burgeoning movement is more than a protest, more than an occupation, and more than any tactic. The “us” in this movement is far broader than those who are able to participate in physical occupations. The movement is everyone who sends supplies, everyone who talks to their friends and families about the underlying issues, everyone who takes some form of action to get involved in this civic process.

Such a movement cannot be evicted. Some politicians may physically remove us from public spaces – our spaces – and, physically, they may succeed. But we are engaged in a battle over ideas. Our idea is that our political structures should serve us, the people – all of us, not just those who have amassed great wealth and power. We believe this idea resonates with so many of us because Congress, beholden to Wall Street, has ignored the powerful stories pouring out from the homes and hearts of our neighbors, stories of unrelenting economic suffering. Our dream for a democracy in which we matter is why so many people have come to identify with Occupy Wall Street and the 99% movement.

More photos from yesterday coming.

Arundhati Roy at Washington Square Park Wednesday, November 16th 12:30 p.m.

Arundhati Roy

If you’ve ever heard Arundhati Roy speak – and I had the opportunity at Riverside Church in 2003 – then you know that she is worth any effort involved to do so ! If not, you will have your chance on Wednesday afternoon, November 16th at Washington Square Park from 12:30 – 1:15 p.m. when she will appear courtesy of the People’s University.

Note: Rain or shine – near Arch / Fountain.

The People’s University “brings education out from the classrooms and into public spaces.” Washington Square Park is their focal point.

About Arundhati Roy:

Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things. Her non-fiction work includes An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, and Broken Republic. An impassioned critic of neo-imperialism, military occupations, and violent models of economic ‘development’, Roy was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in 2004. Her consistent exposure of the Indian state’s repressive policies has led to her being variously labelled a seditionist, secessionist, Maoist and unpatriotic troublemaker.

Roy was trained as an architect and worked as a production designer before the acclaim and fame she received for The God of Small Things led her on other paths. That book remains her only novel – since then she has written non-fiction and writes and speaks out on issues of concern to her.

“Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds… Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.” (Arundhati Roy quote)

More on the People’s University:

The People’s University draws inspiration from the occupations on Wall Street, other cities in the United States, and throughout the world.

The People’s University acknowledges that NYU, and other private universities in New York City and beyond, have colonized our neighborhoods, erecting physical and social barriers to inclusion. The People’s University will now decolonize the public space at the center of NYU’s real estate empire—Washington Square Park.

The People’s University aims to remove education from the marketplace. Learning must be free of charge, and opportunities for education must be plentiful, not scarce. The People’s University is one small step in that direction, because it says that education is not a consumer good. It is what the 99% can and must share in common.

The People’s University is organized in solidarity with #OWS in Liberty Square and complements the education and empowerment work ongoing there.

Why Was Washington Square Park Rejected as Site for Veteran’s Day Rally Concert with Joan Baez?

Updated — Joan Baez has a history at Washington Square Park and it would be fantastic for her to return to perform at the park. Yet when that was attempted for today’s Veteran’s Day Rally, now being held further downtown at Foley Square, the city refused to allow – “balked” at – WSP as the location.

From the New York Daily News:

Legendary 1960s protest singer Joan Baez will headline an Occupy Wall Street rally Friday.

“It’s official. Joan Baez will be here tomorrow,” said organizer Aaron Black. “She’s an icon. We are unbelievably excited. In the ‘60s, protests and music went hand and hand.”

The “11/11/11” Veterans Day Rally will be held at at Foley Square from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The slogan for the day: “Honor the Dead, Fight Like Hell For the Living.”

Ignoring the weekday timeslot and the short notice, Black said he expects big crowds – possibly tens of thousands of people. …

Baez, born a New Yorker, is an icon of the 1960s who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez, dated Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs, and sang about civil rights, human rights and the Vietnam War. …

The concert/rally was originally planned for Washington Square Park but city officials balked. They allowed Foley as a compromise.

I reached out to city’s Parks Department to inquire as to why Washington Square Park was not allowed as a location for the concert. The response I received back was “Check with NYPD.” The Parks Department issues permits for use of the parks. In addition, an earlier Daily News piece stated this:

It was originally supposed to be at Washington Square Park but park officials had concerns about the guest lineup. They allowed protesters to use Foley as a compromise.

Could this have something to do with the park’s redesign – this change of usage of the park? Is the historic nature of the park as a place of music and activism further in danger, even when permitted? Is the 25% reduction of public space around the Fountain Plaza figuring into this? Is Washington Square now considered off-limits for big events?

What exactly was the problem?
****************************************************************

Previously at WSP Blog:

* City “Regulations” Cause Musicians and Artists To Be Ticketed for Performances Near Fountain, Arch, Benches at WSP – October 28, 2011

* “Honey, I Shrunk The Park” March 17, 2008

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Washington Square Park Redesign Phase II-B/Chess Plaza Finally Sees Some Action * Completion by Month’s End?

Updated — Work began again on Phase II-B / Chess Plaza last week! We’ll see if it keeps going and will get to completion by month’s end (previous completion dates for this section have been: Fall 2010/December 2010/Spring 2011/ Memorial Day/end of Summer/end of September – last official date given).

Looking South...

Lawn Installed

West Side

Grass Awaiting Installation Weekend

Chess Plaza Almost Complete

See an overview, dissatisfaction with oversight on the project, and last WSP Blog post on Phase II delays here.

Note: I don’t know what to make of these strange little plants/shrubs in the middle of the Chess Plaza (photo is dark – hard to see). You might recall the Chess Plaza area used to be an open unobstructed space. They made this area smaller (stating it was “un-utilized” I believe was the term from the Parks Commissioner) and broke up the flow of the area with these “flower” beds in the center. Since so much of the redesign is about “symmetry,” of course, Chess Plaza had to have a flower bed in its center but I think it would have been better served without one.

For Sale Around the Park: Manhattan Theatre Source Building on MacDougal and 23 Washington Square North

Manhattan Theatre Source MacDougal St

23 Washington Square North

Updated– I never got to write up Manhattan Theatre Source but I liked going in there (I never saw a show there I must confess but would have ultimately). The front space was billed as a “cafe” — although there was just bottled water and other assorted drinks in a fridge and a few tables — and they’d let you use their WiFi (whether you purchased a drink or not). There was a very nice vibe from the people there the few times I ventured in. I’d been thinking that maybe they should open a real cafe on the bottom floor (I have this little obsession with cafes and coffee shops and could actually see running one!).

So it saddens me – for more than a few reasons – to hear via Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York that the theater space is closing as of January 2012:

Said one of the board members to Broadway World, “Despite efforts to save it, we have finally reached a point where we can no longer sustain the running of our space at 177 MacDougal Street. Our deficits have grown too high, and the terrible economy has badly hurt small theater companies in NYC.”

Blogger Andrew Bellware at Pleasure for the Empire has a different take on the closure. He recently wrote on his blog, “The present Board is actually and actively destroying the theater. And they’re doing it willfully–not just from neglect… The theater is not going bankrupt… It’s just closing because this Board lacks the imagination, the will, and the backbone one needs to keep a small business running.”

I could see that being true. I think this required a bit of ingenuity – even sending out a plea announcing they might have to close would seem worth a try to garner support and ideas.

Manhattan Theatre Source describes itself as follows: “manhattantheatresource is a not-for-profit arts service organization with a groundbreaking purpose: to organize and link the disparate communities within New York’s vital off-off-Broadway movement, and to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ resource center for independent theatre artists and audiences across the nation.”

Bellware is right (as he also states) that, despite the group vowing to continue on, trying to run shows and festivals without a space is not the same. We see all the time that having a physical space makes a difference particularly in real estate-obsessed New York City (which is why it makes me a little nervous and curious wondering what will arrive there next).

The theater organization is at 177 MacDougal Street but I guess they owned 175-177 and 179 MacDougal because they are all for sale for $11,950,000.  ****

23 Washington Square North

Also for sale around the corner and right across from the Park: one of the few properties around Washington Square not owned by NYU!

Since the summer, 23 Washington Square North has featured a “for sale” sign but no takers yet although the price has been reduced from $25 Million to $19.5 Million!

At Leslie J. Garfield Real Estate, the property is still listed at $22 Million although Property Shark reports that it is now $19.5 Million.

There are six (or seven) “units” in the building and it is approximately 8500 square feet. Garfield’s site says: “This home hasn’t been available for sale for half a century.”

On Property Shark, it lists the “current owner” as AJ Clarke at 1881 Broadway which is a real estate/management company (which garnered terrible reviews via Google). (Perhaps they are managing the rentals in the building? Garfield states the longest running lease left ends September 2012.)

As so much around the park is owned by NYU, I’d imagine if the university was interested in this, they would have jumped for it by now. (Probably a little steep for them – they likely grabbed the real estate around the park when it was more “reasonable.”)

The first asking price was $25 Million when first listed on June 14th of this year. Was reduced to $22 Million and now $19.5 Million. What do you think? Worth it? I wonder how much lower the price will go.

The building was built in the 1830’s.

Squirrel Visits Next Door Wash Sq North

Update, A bit more info: Okay, I just read a bit more on Pleasure for the Empire blog and came to this post on “How to Take over 177 MacDougal Street” which revealed that AJ Clarke is landlord for 177 MacDougal – in addition to either owning or managing 23 Washington Square North! (What else does AJ Clarke own around the Square and are they selling?) How odd. I think that post was written before it was announced that the MacDougal buildings were being sold. So… AJ Clarke decided to sell the buildings once Manhattan Theatre Source decided they were leaving? Perhaps?

Photo, Manhattan Theatre Source: Wikipedia
All others: Cathryn

Weekend at Washington Square

Fall at the Fountain - On!

Still wondering about the health of the remaining trees that line the fountain. They certainly did ‘turn’ color early (see one in background here and a few shots below) and I’m thinking they have also met the fate of their predecessors.

Guitarist by Arch; Sand Painting on Plaza


Piano Player On Fountain Plaza East

In defiance of the newly and seemingly arbitrarily enforced “regulation” that musicians and artists must be 50 feet from the fountain or a monument or 5 feet from a bench at the park, musicians and artists were found Sunday near all, as it should be. Although artist Joe Mangrum, who has been sand painting at Washington Square for a really long time, was ticketed on Saturday.

Debt and Money Forum - Occupy Washington Square

Speaker Andrew Ross at Occupy Washington Square Forum

Occupy Washington Square held another forum Sunday, “Debt and Money: Demand the Impossible,” which was very interesting (I’ll add in some notes from it later). These forums will address new topics with new speakers and will be held weekly on Sundays at 4 p.m. Towards the end of this one, WSP resident Bobby flew by and made his way west of the Arch!

Arrow Pointing East - To Where is Unknown

Sunday, November 6th: Occupy Washington Square Forum — “Debt & Money: Demand the Impossible”

Occupy Washington Square announces a Public Forum in Washington Square Park this Sunday, November 6th at 4 p.m.:

DEBT & MONEY — DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE

The General Assembly of Washington Square Park (www.OccupyWSP.org) is hosting a Public Forum this Sunday, November 6th at 4 p.m. on imagining new responses to debt.

  • Are other systems beyond money possible?
  • How can the Occupy movement address the issue of student debt?
  • What is the currency of community?

Following from the success of recent Forums featuring Judith Butler (2 weeks ago) and Angela Davis (last week), this weekend continues the tradition of presenting challenging and inspiring ideas and speakers in the public space each Sunday.

This Sunday’s Forum will consist of presentations by four speakers, followed by extensive Q&A. Speakers include:

DANIEL PINCHBECK is the co-editor of the new anthology, What Comes After Money?, co-founder of websites Reality Sandwich and Evolver.net, and author of the books 2012: The Return of Quezalcoatl and Breaking Open the Head, all of which encourage looking at an emerging new paradigm.

ANYA KAMENETZ is the author of Generation Debt, DIY U, and The Edupunks’ Guide, all about the intersection of education and economics, and self-organized solutions.

McKENZIE WARK is the author of The Hacker Manifesto and The Beach Beneath The Streets which focuses on the history of the Situationists International including the liberating promise of public space.

ANDREW ROSS is the author of many books including Celebration and Nice Work if You Can Get it: Life and Labor in Precarious Times. He is interested in the new Student Debt Moratorium Proposal.

4pm this Sunday, in Washington Square Park NYC, near the archway. All welcome.

See original at Occupy Washington Square web site.

Photo: Gamma Blog