Does Washington Square Park “feel haunted”?

NewYork.com features a piece on Haunted Landmarks in NYC. They list definite “ghost sightings” at the Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, Wollman Rink. About Washington Square Park, they opine that, due to the “mass grave below the park” (they write this without any context) “the place just feels haunted.”

Does it?

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More… WSP Blog breaks story of discovery of 18th century tombstone at the park earlier this year during Phase II construction.

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Was a Tombstone Discovered Today at Washington Square Park While Digging Up Southwest side?

As many people know, Washington Square Park was previously a burial ground – a “potters field” – from 1797-1825.  It is believed that up to 20,000 bodies were buried there at that time.  During Phase I redesign construction in mid-to-late January of 2008, workers found at least four intact skeletons and 70-80 human bones (See Previous WSP Blog postThe Skeletons of Washington Square Park).  Construction work began over the last few weeks on Washington Square Park Redesign: Phase II (focusing on the Northeast, Southeast and Southwest parts of the park).  Now comes word from a blog visitor who walked by the park today that he saw a tombstone uncovered thereAny more information on this?

Here is the comment:

October 23, 2009

Do you have any information on a tombstone that was uncovered today in WSP at the corner of Sullivan and West 4th Street? I saw the back of it with my own eyes being dusted and photographed inside the chain-link fence. The small crew were very tight lipped.

Sincerely, Matt Kovary

Note: Check back! I will find out more information if available.

The Skeletons of Washington Square Park


Washington Square Park “Renovation”
(note: fountain entirely torn up now; trees gone.)

Washington Square Park first came into being as a Park in the 1850’s. It was a Potter’s field (a “common” burial ground) from 1797-1825. It is believed that up to 20,000 people were buried there (and are still there) from that time period.

In mid-to-late January of this year, while excavating the park during their “renovation,” City workers found at least 4 intact skeletons and 70-80 human bones.

Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner William Castro asserted previously to the community in front of local Community Board 2 – to address concerns about precisely this issue – that the Parks Department would not be digging more than 1-3 feet deep. The city then proceeded to dig from 7 to 11 feet below grade.

The City told the Associated Press in January that the bones would be “analyzed” and “reburied respectfully.”

NYC 24 blog has a new story about the bones resurfacing in Washington Square Park.

And, of course, digging up skeletons can have many meanings. Skeletons ‘of our past’ means interfering with the historical and emotional center of our beings — which is exactly what New York City is attempting to do with their excavation of Washington Square Park.

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As a new blog, word of mouth is very important. We’d like to thank Patti Smith for linking to our site. She asks, “What is happening to OUR Washington Square Park?”