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.

NY Times Story Confirmed Last Week Washington Square Park Tombstone Discovery Was from 1799; Blog Writing Hiatus

The New York Times wrote a story last week (Wednesday, 10-28) with a photo and additional information about the tombstone discovered in Washington Square Park during Phase II Construction – it was from 1799!

WSP Blog first broke the news on Friday October 23rd when commenter Matt Kovary wrote in with his sighting and then confirmed the story with the NYC Parks Department and added details from Mr. Kovary in blog postTombstone Discovery at Washington Square Park Could Date Back to 18th Century” on Monday October 26th.  It was very exciting (in its own way, of course)!

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Updated: This technically all happened in the midst of a blog writing hiatus, therefore, WSP Blog needs to take some additional time away from the blog starting tomorrow, Thursday, November 5th. (Note: this hiatus does not have anything to do Mayor Bloomberg’s re-election news!) And, unless another tombstone is discovered(!), this break will go through Monday, November 16th end of November — but will update now and again. During that time, I hope to get further along on a separate writing project. Check other updates (although hopefully not too much!) at twitter.

More on Tombstone Discovery At Washington Square Park Which Could Date Back to 18th Century — Update: Confirmed!

Update 2:13 p.m! Confirmed by NYC Parks Department.

From Cristina DeLuca from NYC Parks Department Press Office:

Yes, I can confirm. Archaeologists and engineers are on the scene to make a preliminary report and nothing further is known at this time.

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More information on the tombstone that may have been was uncovered on Friday, October 23rd at Washington Square Park during construction recently begun for WSP Redesign: Phase II.

Matt Kovary grew up in Greenwich Village, works nearby and passes by the location every day. He contacted WSP Blog on Friday after walking by the Park that afternoon when he noticed that there was a large hole dug about 6 feet below the surface in the fenced-off construction area, right at the perimeter of the chain-link fence on the southern edge at Washington Square South and Sullivan Street.

According to Mr. Kovary, there were two people inside the fence, a man and a woman, poring over and dusting off what appeared to be a tombstone which he believed had been recovered from the hole. They were taking pictures of it, and, when he asked whether it was indeed a tombstone, the woman would only state that it was “sandstone,” admitting she was not authorized to talk about it.

Mr. Kovary said that the artifact looked like “a tombstone, not unlike those you’d see at Trinity Church – but in much better condition.” He wondered if it could have been “related to the original land owner” and questioned whether this came from a “family cemetery” from 200 years ago or more.

Although skeletons and human bones from the Park’s time period as a “potter’s field” (1797-1825) have been discovered as recently as last year (see WSP blog entry “The Skeletons of Washington Square Park” – it’s believed more than 20,000 bodies are buried under the park), there seems to be less information about – and discovery related toprivate cemetery usage before the area was a New York City park.

In Emily Kies Folpe’s book “It Happened on Washington Square,” she writes:

From time to time, some of these old bones have resurfaced. …

More evidence was uncovered in 1890, when workmen digging the foundation for the Arch came upon headstones with German inscriptions dating to 1803, thought to be from a private German graveyard at the north side of the field.

Now confirmed – as first reported here October 23rd! – the discovery of a tombstone at Washington Square Park during Phase II construction. More to come.

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.