Washington Square Fall 2012 at Dusk

View from Fifth Avenue At Dusk

Closer, Towards The Arch

(Still) Plume-less Fountain

People in the Fountain, Including…

This Gal Deep in Thought

The Fountain Plaza and the Arch… Look Closer

Halloween comes early at Washington Square ?


Photos: Cathryn

Washington Square September 2012: Khalil Gibran on the Plaza, Fountain Plumes (Still) A Bit ‘Off,’ and Direction “To Happiness”

Khalil Gibran Near the Fountain…

A Closer Look

This artist, Honschar, has chalked memorable quotes on the Plaza at WSP a lot lately. He has a Facebook page.

So, if you look at the Fountain from the west, the fountain plume looks as if it is tilting south (left)…

The Fountain, looking East

When you look from the north looking south, it looks a bit more balanced.

(Still No Side Plumes.)

Looking South…

Then, on the Plaza (maybe left over from Occupy Wall Street Saturday? These photos are from Monday), this made me think … wouldn’t it be nice if there was an arrow leading the way? But maybe there is, and we don’t always realize it. Or, as my sister said, “maybe the arrow is YOU! ;)” Exactly.


In the meantime, I’d like to note where the arrow is pointing…

Washington Square Summer 2012

August 2012

(I don’t usually post straight-on shots of the Fountain and Arch because the aligning of the Fountain with the Arch at Fifth Avenue just seems a little more crazy as time goes on. However, since it’s not really aligned and I liked this shot, I left it in.)

You’ll notice a man in the fountain reading a book…

And closer up… so caught up! Wonder what he’s reading…

Bobby (Red-Tailed Hawk) atop Judson Church cross (fountain plume to right)

Tree still dead near the Arch

Bustling near the Arch (Empire State Building in background)


Just a few snap shots…

And Then There Were Nine: Ninth Tree Dead Around Washington Square Fountain Over Three Years

second time tree dies in location by the Arch

oh dear…

Previous tree, Last August

Since the Fountain Plaza was redesigned in 2009 and existing healthy 40 year old trees were axed so the Fountain could align with the Arch (sort of), nine young trees have been planted and subsequently died. The latest tree, located right near the Arch, hadn’t looked healthy for awhile and at last succumbed (pictured above). A tree died in this same location last August. Here is a recap from this blog on August 17, 2011 when the previous tree alongside the Arch died:

I’ve previously reported on the young trees dying repeatedly around the Washington Square Fountain, this tree (pictured above) now makes tree #8. Over the last two years, trees have been replaced by the Parks Department and died 3x in two locations around the fountain; a new arborcidal incident occurred on the western side just recently. Now this — the fourth location lining the fountain to exhibit a dead tree.

These events were forecast by a landscape architect I encountered back in August of 2009 who predicted ALL the trees around the fountain would likely die and attributed this to the design.

These young (now dead) trees replaced perfectly healthy living trees which were 40+ years old, axed because they got in the way of the Bloomberg Administration’s plan to move the famous fountain 22 feet east to align with the Arch at Fifth Avenue.

The reality is that these aren’t the only dead trees dying at Washington Square Park. North, South, East, West, Perimeter, Within – trees are dying all over at the park.

What can be done to stop the New York City Parks Department from committing this arborcide?

Note: In late September of last year, the Parks Department told WNBC-TV’s Chris Glorioso that they were studying the issue and conducting tests but it didn’t sound as if they planned to do anything differently despite expert advice isolating what they were doing wrong (that they continue to ignore).

Why will this agency in charge of our city’s trees not do the right thing? Is it political as I surmised (based on information from a source) at the onset?

Previously at WSP Blog:

July 11, 2011: Why do the Newly Planted Trees Around the Washington Square Fountain Keep Dying?

July 15, 2011: Arborcidal Design for Fountain Trees — Will City’s Parks Department Address This at Last?

December 10,2009: Two of Seven Newly Planted Trees that Line the Fountain have died — Is the cause the design?

Photos: Cathryn

A View In…


Looking North from the perimeter of the Park…

Photo: Cat

Blue Sky As Backdrop to the Arch


This afternoon, brilliant sky, fabulous Arch.
(Two Fifth Avenue in the background ruins the shot a bit but I think you get the idea just how blue the sky is!)

Photo: Cathryn

Untapped New York Looks at WSP’s “Hidden History”


Untapped New York takes a look at The Hidden History of Washington Square Park:

The Washington Square Arch has been a staple of the park since 1889. Designed by Stanford White, the arch was first built out of wood to commemorate the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration. The prominent citizens loved it and paid for White to design it out of marble. Alexander Stirling Calder made the statue of Washington and Fredrick MacMonnies carved the relief work.

In 1916, painter John Sloan, dadaist Marcel Duchamp and three of their friends broke into the interior staircase of the arch. They climbed to the top, cooked food, lit Japanese lanterns, fired cap pistols, launched balloons and declared it the independent republic of New Bohemia. The citizens were outraged and the interior door of the arch was sealed. Some of the lucky have been able to tour the inside.

The fountain was built in 1960 and reminds us of the now-covered Minetta Brook that even today still flows under the southeast corner of the park.

I’ve noticed that it looks like the Arch door now in fact has an alarm on it or else a really secure new lock. Will post a photo.

Image: Downtown Doodler

Thanks to Local Ecologist for letting me know about this piece!

The Arch’s Roman Numerals

Roman Numerals on Eastern side of Arch

It’s funny when you notice something that you never have before. Walking from the Eastern side of the Park towards the Arch the other day, I noticed, for the first time, that there are Roman numerals up top on the eastern side of the structure. Having not thought about reading Roman numerals in a pretty long while, I did a bit of research to relearn how to decipher them (which was sort of fun).

The date there on the side of the Arch is not what I would have expected. The Arch was created to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration. It was first constructed in wood and unveiled to commemorate the centennial in 1889. It originally resided half a block away from its current location; the version we see today was later constructed in marble and made permanent.

The date on the side of the Arch is not 1889 to mark the centennial and when the first Arch was built nor the date when the current Arch was finished – 1890-1892 – but is 1789 – the actual year of Washington’s inauguration. (This is assuming I have read these Roman numerals correctly which I’m pretty sure I have.) We wouldn’t do it that way today – marking that date instead of the date of construction or some other significance.

It’s amazing reflecting on how old – and magnificent – the Arch is.

* Previously at WSP Blog: History of the Washington Square Arch and “Exitus Acta Probat”

Photos: Cathryn.

The History of the Washington Square Christmas Tree — Tree from First Tree Lighting Ceremony in 1924 Was Planted in the Park In Spirit of “Wise Use”

“Researching Greenwich Village History”, an NYU site, recently uncovered the history of the first Washington Square Christmas tree. It turns out that the tree propped up in the front of the Arch at the first tree lighting ceremony in 1924 was later planted in the park. Words to the carols – to prompt the sing along – were projected onto the Arch!

The writer was not able to confirm that that tree is still at WSP or where it was planted which would be quite interesting to know. Apparently, “conservation” was a big consideration at that time, more so than 87 years later it appears. An article in the New York Times in 1925 expressed that, “Each year…a cry is raised that to have Christmas trees is to endanger our waning forest resources.” Perhaps they might consider planting the trees in the park now vs. the trees ending up in the chipper. The original tree, if it still existed in recent years, may have been chopped down in the Parks Department’s axing of so many trees via its redesign of Washington Square.

Here’s the info:

The original tree was officially presented on December 24, 1924, by Parks Commissioner Gallatin. The “appropriate ceremonies” included the lighting of the tree, which was to be equipped with “1,500 amber, green and red incandescent lights.” (New York Times, “City’s Celebration of Yuletide Begins” December 24, 1924) as well as caroling, and as the article went to press, the plan was to project the words of Christmas carols directly onto the Washington Square Arch, “…so that all present may read and sing.” The living tree, temporarily set up by the arch, was then to be planted permanently elsewhere in the park the following Monday.

It seems that today’s Washington Square Christmas Tree is a cut one, but in the spirit of “wise use,” we can still hope that the original living tree was able to be planted and enjoyed for many years after its journey to New York City! And of course, every time we walk through Washington Square Park and see an evergreen, we can imagine that it’s an 87 year veteran of park life.

Don’t forget caroling by the tree continues in front of the Arch Saturday, December 24th 5 p.m.!

The projection of the words to the carols on the Arch seems to have been abandoned but perhaps that could be brought back too. It would be another way to save trees as songbooks are now provided and handed out by the Washington Square Association instead.

The Rockefeller Center tree lighting is in its 79th year — a not well known fact is that the Washington Square tradition, at year 87, surpasses it in age.

Photo of this year’s tree(2011): Fernandohn via Instagram.

Community Board 2 to Hold “Washington Square Park Speak Out” on Performance Crackdown Monday, December 19th

Opera Under the Arch! (August 2011)

As I reported in yesterday’s post on the performance crackdown at Washington Square (and the media surrounding it), CB2 plans to come out of hiding on issues relating to WSP and hold a public forum.

Mark your calendar!
Community Board 2 Washington Square Park Speak Out — Monday, December 19th, 6:30 p.m. at the NYU Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square South, 8th Floor.

A note: No women spoke at Sunday’s press conference on this issue. It’s true there are less female performers at the park. I wonder why that is? I encountered these two women in the summer singing opera under the Arch. The Arch is known for its acoustics; as Katie Kat, left, said, the Arch is “the spot to sing.”

Previously on WSP Blog: Opera Under the Arch! August 4, 2011