Fodor's Expert Review Washington Square Park

Greenwich Village Park/Playground Fodor's Choice
Free
Washington Square Arch, Square Park, Greenwich Village, New York City, New York, USA

NYU students, street musicians, skateboarders, chess players, and those just watching the grand opera of it all generate a maelstrom of activity in this physical and spiritual heart of Greenwich Village. The 9¾-acre park had inauspicious beginnings as a cemetery, principally for yellow-fever victims—an estimated 10,000–22,000 bodies lie below (a headstone was even unearthed in 2009). In the early 1800s the park was a parade ground and the site of public executions; the notorious Hanging Elm still stands at the northwest corner of the square. Today playgrounds attract parents with tots, dogs go leash-free inside the dog runs, and everyone else seems drawn toward the large central fountain.

The triumphal European-style Washington Memorial Arch at the square's northern flank marks the start of 5th Avenue. The original wood-and-papier-mâché arch, situated a half block north, was erected in 1889 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of George Washington's presidential inauguration.... READ MORE

NYU students, street musicians, skateboarders, chess players, and those just watching the grand opera of it all generate a maelstrom of activity in this physical and spiritual heart of Greenwich Village. The 9¾-acre park had inauspicious beginnings as a cemetery, principally for yellow-fever victims—an estimated 10,000–22,000 bodies lie below (a headstone was even unearthed in 2009). In the early 1800s the park was a parade ground and the site of public executions; the notorious Hanging Elm still stands at the northwest corner of the square. Today playgrounds attract parents with tots, dogs go leash-free inside the dog runs, and everyone else seems drawn toward the large central fountain.

The triumphal European-style Washington Memorial Arch at the square's northern flank marks the start of 5th Avenue. The original wood-and-papier-mâché arch, situated a half block north, was erected in 1889 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of George Washington's presidential inauguration. The arch was reproduced in Tuckahoe marble in 1892, and the statues—Washington as General Accompanied by Fame and Valor on one side, and Washington as Statesman Accompanied by Wisdom and Justice on the other—were added in 1916 and 1918, respectively.

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Park/Playground Fodor's Choice Family Free

Quick Facts

5th Ave. between Waverly Pl. and 4th St.
New York, New York  10003, USA

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