HistoryHome to vibrant industrial and financial sectors, Lower Manhattan was rapidly growing in the early 1800's. The government of New York City was under heavy pressure to expand the infrastructure in order to accommodate commercial and population growth. With strong support from the legislature of the state, the municipal government designated Union Square as a public space for recreation and relaxation. The oval walkways and other elongated paths of the park were heavily influenced by urban design of London, England. In the 1870's, some of America's greatest landscape architects were hired to expand and upgrade Union Square Park. Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Omsted added beautiful trees, shrubs and other lush foliage to the public square. These talented individuals participated in other major beautification projects, including the design of Central Park in Manhattan. Since its opening, Union Square Park has been an important gathering place for political and social causes. At the outbreak of the Civil War, huge crowds gathered to show their support for the Union. The park has also hosted plenty of rallies during the labour movements of the early 20th century. Click to book your Flatiron Food, Architecture & History walking tour.
Features and LandmarksThe most prominent installation at Union Square Park is an equestrian statue of George Washington. Henry Kirk Brown was commissioned to design this massive bronze sculpture to commemorate the legacy of the first president of the United States. This American sculptor emphasized Washington's charisma and authority in a scene that focuses on Evacuation Day of 1783. The installation was officially dedicated on Independence Day of 1856. Since then, the statue of Washington has been a popular fixture in Union Square Park. Dedicated in 1870, the Abraham Lincoln Statue stands at the north end of the park. The Union League Club funded the installation that honoured the president who abolished slavery. If you're a history buff, then you'll also embrace the statue of Marquis de Lafayette, a French general who supported the American Revolution. Additionally, the park has a small statue of Mohandas Gandhi that was unveiled in 1986. The northern end of Union Square Park is occupied by the Greenmarket Farmers Market. Open several days a week, this outdoor market is one of the largest and busiest of its kind in New York City. Placing an emphasis on green living and sustainability, the Greenmarket mostly sells produce and other items from local farms and businesses.
Visiting Union Square ParkThe 14th Street-Union Square station is one of the busiest New York City Subway hubs in Lower Manhattan. This underground complex gets service from the 4, 5 and 6 lines that run through the eastern part of the borough. The N, Q, R and W lines connect Manhattan with Queens. Additionally, the L Line links Manhattan with Brooklyn. There are also more than a dozen bus stops within walking distance of Union Square Park. All of the buses are part of the MTA Regional Bus Operations (RBO), which is a transportation division that serves all of NYC. Finding a parallel parking spot near the park might be a problem during the day. However, several parking garages and metered parking spots are available on the busy 14th Street, which is directly connected to the FDR Drive on the eastern flank of Lower Manhattan.
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