Destination List > Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park
Photo by HyunJae Park
In the 17th century, the area now known as Washington Square Park was a marshy plot of land frequented by Native American tribes. By the 18th century, it had become a Potter's Field, a burial ground for the city's poor and unknown. Later, it was transformed into a military parade ground and execution site.
In the early 19th century, the city of New York purchased the land and transformed it into a public park. It was officially designated as Washington Square Park in honor of the first President of the United States, George Washington. Throughout the 19th century, the park underwent several redesigns, evolving from a simple square to a picturesque landscape with walkways, fountains, and statues.
During the 20th century, Washington Square Park became synonymous with artistic and intellectual life in Greenwich Village. It attracted writers, musicians, and artists, including the likes of Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg. The park was a focal point for the folk music revival and the Beat Generation.
The park played a significant role in the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1950s and 60s. It was a site of protests, rallies, and gatherings, including Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech during the civil rights march in 1963.
Today, Washington Square Park continues to be a center of community life. It features the iconic Washington Arch, a central gathering point for residents and visitors. The park hosts cultural events, street performers, and vibrant displays of art, maintaining its reputation as a symbol of free expression and democratic ideals.