Memorial Day Weekend 2012, Washington Square (Hangmen’s Elm Area, Vast Swaths of Lawn Cordoned Off …)

A bit delayed …

NW Entrance closed (due to Hangmen’s Elm – at right – concern)

Area around tree cordoned off

Regulars Tic and Tac perform (with live drums!)

Open lawn, southern end

Fenced off lawn remains throughout eastern end

I noticed the park’s NorthWest entrance cordoned off over the weekend for “inspection and maintenance.” But it wasn’t until commenter Seth noted it in relation to yesterday’s post about concerns over the condition of the famous 330 year old Hangmen’s Elm which resides right there that I realized the two were related. There must really be serious concern. Community Board 2 met last night to discuss (more on that to come). As for the large swaths of park lawn which have been fenced off for close to two months, a small portion was opened up for use south of the main plaza. It’s close to a month overdue for the fences coming down on the NorthWest and Eastern sides. One regular mentioned that people are either avoiding the park entirely or bringing their own lawn chairs to sit. As for good news, (tho’ still not fully operational), the fountain is on!

Is Washington Square’s 330 Year old Hangmen’s Elm in Trouble? Community Board 2 Meeting to Address Tonight

Has the construction at Washington Square taken a damaging toll on the park’s famous Hangmen’s Elm reported to be 330 years old?

From Community Board 2 announcement:

Wednesday, May 30th, CB2’s Parks Committee will be meeting at the LGBT Center, located at 208 West 13th Street, in room 410.  The meeting will begin at 6:30pm.  The agenda items will include:

1.     Public discussion of the recent Parks Department decision, following an inspection, to remove one or more major limbs from the Hangman’s Elm (aka Hangman’s Tree) in Washington Square Park.  The Parks Department has been invited to attend the meeting.  [This item was added to the agenda last week after we were informed of this decision.]

The Hangmen’s Elm is located in the NorthWest corner of the park. There were concerns before the park redesign construction began that the trees would not (and were not) adequately protected. And we know the young trees lining the fountain have not fared very well

Washington Square’s Juvenile Red-tailed Hawks Take First Flight Monday!

Fledge to nearby ledge!

There are two juvenile hawks this year as opposed to last year when there was just one – sweet Pip. And on Monday, Memorial Day evening, they both took their first flight from the 12th floor ledge of the Bobst Library.

Urban Hawks Blog recounted some of the unusual aspects of this fledge (more photos too):

Fledge Day at Washington Square turned out to be unlike any I have every watched. Both eyasses fledged within ten minutes of each other (8:05 and 8:15) and ended up on the same ledge of a nearby NYU building. Red-tailed Hawks don’t normally fledge together, nor do they usually fledge to the same place. The fledge happened at dusk, another rarity.

I’ve noticed in the past that many in the hawk world think there is a certain order to all this and the Washington Square hawks keep defying it — which is fitting!

Photo by Washington Square avid hawk watcher and New York Times‘ Web Cam chat room moderator (I think I have that right!) Pondove via the New York Times.

** The history of the Washington Square hawks with the appearance of Violet and Bobby at WSP Blog. **

Memorial Day Weekend – Fountain On! Lawn Mostly Sequestered

Beautiful weekend in NYC and at WSP.

A small portion of lawn was opened up south of the Fountain in time for Memorial Day but not much else. Side plumes on the Fountain are still not operational.
More photos coming…

Mike Bloomberg on people in the Village: “the value of their homes, the level of their quality of life is due to the proximity of N.Y.U.”

In case you missed this… In Scoopy’s Notebook, The Villager, May 24, 2012

Positive purple aura? Many people think that Greenwich Village’s cachet — and the value of its property — comes from its beautiful, landmarked, low-scale buildings, its artistic and intellectual ferment and its numerous attractions, from Washington Square to cafes and cultural spots. But Mayor Bloomberg says simply being close to New York University is a major factor driving property values. Responding to a reporter’s question last month about the university’s 2031 plan, Bloomberg said of the Village, “People there, the value of their homes, the level of their quality of life is due to the proximity of N.Y.U.” He furthermore accused the plan’s opponents of “playing politics with it,” adding that this is “not beneficial to anyone.”

Assemblymember Deborah Glick said, sadly, the mayor just doesn’t get it. “Spoken like a man who comes from Boston and lives on the Upper East Side,” she said. “I don’t think he particularly understands New York — he understands a very limited slice of New York. The neighborhood, day-to-day life of New Yorkers is not something that has value for him or his social set. People will be disappointed, but I don’t think they’ll be the least bit surprised,” Glick said of the mayor’s claims that it’s actually N.Y.U. that is elevating everyone’s quality of life.

A View In…

Looking North from the perimeter of the Park…

Photo: Cat

Will fences blocking off 3/4 of WSP lawn from use come down by Memorial Day?

Looking East from the Arch


Signage and sparrows taking in the scene from the fence

A reader wrote to me a week ago Sunday an email with the subject: “What date are we allowed to sit on the lawn at Washington Square Park?” This person continued:

Hi, Spent a very frustrating half hour trying to have this simple park-goer’s need answered. Impossible.!  Do you know ?
A simple pleasure.. lie on some grass and read a book.
many thx.

Shortly after large swaths of lawn on the NorthEast, SouthEast, and NorthWest Quadrants were fenced off, I wrote to the Parks Department on April 4th. The response was clear and to the point:

We just reseeded, so it will be about a month from now.  This is necessary to do at least twice a year in order to maintain the grass.There is one large and two small panels open near the chess area that we did not need to reseed and are currently open to the public.

Grass is extremely difficult to maintain on lawns that are as heavily used as the ones in this park.  In order to keep the grass growing for the public’s enjoyment, we need to adhere to strict maintenance schedules, which includes closing for reseeding twice a year and keeping opening and closing hours.  We also close the lawns (on a rotating basis) a few days at a time during the season to let them rest.  We also do not allow active sports or dogs on the lawns.

This is understandable, I think. But now that it’s 6 1/2 weeks of time with the lawn fenced off… it would seem time the fencing comes down. The area around the Chess Plaza can’t handle the demand, certainly on the weekends.

People enjoying the eastern lawn right before fences appeared

This sign was up for a short while — “Grass for display only”

Maybe before Memorial Day?

Tarot Readings by Kyler Washington Square

This gentleman, Kyler, was out at the Square last week offering “Tarot Readings.” Initially, he was wearing a tin foil hat. I couldn’t figure out if it was a joke for people who don’t take tarot seriously or if it was an experiment of some kind or what. It seemed like it wasn’t helping his case as no one stopped by; I was almost tempted to sit down. At last, a young woman gave him a chance. He seemed very contemplative and thoughtful during her reading. For the reading, he took the hat off but you can see it peeking out of his bag.

New York Times Covers “Reprieve for Performers in Washington Square Park”

WSP Blog first reported the story on the City reversing course on ticketing and fining performers at Washington Square Park on May 10th; other media outlets followed suit, including the New York Times on Friday, May 18th.

From NYT, “A Reprieve for Performers in Washington Square Park” (5/18):

The show can go on in Washington Square Park.

After months in which the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation handed out summonses in the park to performers who strayed too close to monuments and benches, park officials seem to have quietly backed down in the park, a birthplace of folk music and a haven for poets, activists and buskers.

In a statement, Philip Abramson, a parks department spokesman, said that “the expressive matter rules have not changed,” referring to the regulations seeking to control commerce in busy parks. The rules prohibit the sale of art and souvenirs, and restrict the solicitation of donations, within 50 feet of a park monument or 5 feet of a bench. But, the statement said, the rules generally do “not apply to buskers and entertainers.”

Except, of course, when they do.

* WSP Blog, City Reverses Course on Performance Crackdown at Washington Square Park; No More Ticketing and Fining of “Entertainers and Buskers” May 10, 2011

Music This Sunday 5/20: Washington Square Music Festival Fundraiser and Greenwich Village Orchestra Concert (Mention WSP Blog at the Latter & Get in for Discounted Rate!)

There are two great opportunities for high caliber music and fun this Sunday, May 20th. One is the Greenwich Village Orchestra’s final concert of the season at Washington Irving Auditorium with a discounted rate – only $5 – if you mention Washington Square Park Blog! In addition, there will a fundraiser for the Washington Square Music Festival at nearby Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street.

Conductor Yaniv Segal

Here are the details:

The Greenwich Village Orchestra, comprised of talented local musicians and going strong for the last 25 years, will present its final concert of the season this Sunday, May 20th at 3 p.m. The concert features guest conductor, 31-year-old Yaniv Segal, named by Esquire Magazine as a rising star who is “redefining classical music.” Performances will include Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 9” and Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5.” There will be a free reception afterwards with food and beverages and an opportunity to meet the musicians.

** Mention Washington Square Park Blog and get in for only $5 at the door!
Location: Washington Irving Auditorium, 40 Irving Place (at 17th Street), Manhattan.

The Washington Square Music Festival will hold a fundraiser from 3-6 p.m. on Sunday, May 20th to benefit their upcoming season at neighborhood nightspot Le Poisson Rouge. The event will feature “delicious savories, sweets and wines,” door prizes (including Emily Kies Folpe’s book, It Happened On Washington Square), and entertainment by members of the Festival plus special guests. Music director and cellist Lutz Rath and soprano Lucia Hyunju Song will perform Barbara Harbach’s “Cherish-Caress” and Kurt Schwitters’ “Anna Blume,” a DADA love poem for speaker and cello improvisation. In a highly anticipated performance, Abdoulaye Alhassane Touré, the singer and leader of the Deep Sahara Band, along with members of the group, will present music from West Africa. The West Village Chorale, which performs at Judson Church, will join the Washington Square Music Festival in performance for the first time. Chorale members will present Michael Conley’s “This Bequest of Wings,” an Emily Dickinson Cycle. The 54th season of the Washington Square Music Festival will begin in July.

Tickets range from $75 to $200 ($50 special price for attendees under 40!). You can purchase tickets in advance here.

Le Poisson Rouge is at 158 Bleecker Street (between Sullivan and Thompson), Greenwich Village.


Photo (Yaniv Segal): Rick Guest, Esquire