After Over 100 Years, Dueling Returns to the Park! — Sunday, August 28th (Update: CANCELLED)

En Garde!

Cancelled due to forthcoming storm; will be rescheduled

The Martinez Academy of Arms will present dueling in Washington Square Park on Sunday, August 28th from 5-7 p.m. at the Holley Plaza (west of the Fountain). The Broome Street-based school, which teaches the European tradition of fencing arts, will hold a “demonstration of the art and science of fencing as it was practiced in New York City during two of its most important historical eras, the 18th and 19th centuries.”

In It Happened on Washington Square, Emily Kies Folpe documents dueling in Washington Square at the time it was a potter’s field:

The open space of the potter’s field was often a stage where large themes of American history played out in small dramas. In 1803, William Coleman, editor of the New York Evening Post, and Captain Thompson, harbormaster of the port of New York, fought a duel there. Although the immediate provocation was a personal insult, the animosity arose from the political convictions of the two men involved, each of whom adhered to a fundamental but opposing philosophy of government.

Coleman was first challenged to a duel by the editor of the American Citizen who accused him of slander. (Aaron Burr ran American Citizen and he battled Alexander Hamilton the following year in their famous duel in Weehawken, New Jersey in which Hamilton was killed.) The duel between the two editors was called off but Mr. Thompson (likely Thompson Street is named after him?) jumped in and stated that Coleman wasn’t up to a duel and “would readily turn the other cheek if attacked.” It was a different time and this caused Coleman to then challenge Thompson himself to a duel. Thompson died, admitting before hand that he had provoked the duel to happen.

Kies Folpe writes that duels continued for another twenty years or so “even as the area became more populated”; however, in 1828, dueling was prohibited by state law. (The Academy says duels were fought in Central Park as late as the 1920′s!)

Come witness this lost art on Sunday at the Park.

Photo: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliotheque nationale de France

Washington Square Park Update: Eastern Section of Park Being Entirely Closed Off Monday 10/5 as WSP Redesign: Phase II Officially Begins

Quick update: Enjoy it while you can. Although fencing now lines Washington Square Park along the Eastern perimeter (and also North and South sides), the entrances are still openBut not much longer. The opportunity to enjoy the entire park — after Phase I of Washington Square Park’s redesign closed off the NorthWest Quadrant and entire Fountain Plaza for one and a half years — is coming to an end.  It was nice while it lasted (4 and 1/2 months).  Word is that the Park will be entirely sealed off on the eastern side on Monday, October 5th as Phase II begins.

To learn more about New York City’s Phase II plans for Washington Square Park, look here.

Washington Square Park Phase II Work To Begin This Week – Fencing Off of NE, SE, and SW Quadrants of Park Imminent

Updated

According to the New York City Parks Department, park goers’ access to all of Washington Square Park — which has been SO nice over the past four months after the NorthWest Quadrant and Fountain Plaza were previously closed for one and a half years — will soon end.

Work on Phase II of the Washington Square Park redesign is scheduled to begin shortly and the fencing around the NorthEast, SouthEast and SouthWest Quadrants of the park will be going up THIS WEEK.  (Today? Tomorrow? Friday? Not certain.)  It will take several days to get these sections fenced off.

According to the Parks Department press department:  The contract for phase II of the work was “awarded to Tucci Equipment Rental Corporation. Contract amount is $9.1 million. The work will incorporate the NE, SE, and SW quadrants of the park.”

You might recall that the entire budget for the park’s redesign was initially $16 million.  Phase I costs skyrocketed from a projected $6 million to $13 million. Update: I stand corrected. Phase I alone was $16 million. We are now upon Phase II and there is also a Phase III (bathrooms and Park administrative offices) up ahead.

Read more (previous blog entry) about Phase II plans for Washington Square Park here.

As I reported back in July, Phase II will see dramatic changes to : the Garibaldi Plaza, the Dog Runs, the “Teen Plaza” / Performance Area, the Chess Area, the “Mounds” and more!  A positive has been the Parks Department’s agreement to preserve four of the Park’s seating alcoves – one reconfigured on the Southeast side while the two on the East side and the one on the Northeast side of the Park will be preserved as ‘is’.