Washington Square Park | A Vibrant Meeting Place

by NYJ Team

Washington Square Park, at the foot of New York’s Fifth Avenue, in the heart of Greenwich Village, is an almost 10-acre park that serves as campus green for nearby New York University, a place for residents to relax and walk their dogs, and a public art and theater center. One of the more popular of New York City’s 1700 parks, it is named for the United States’ first president, George Washington. The park is a vibrant meeting place and offers visitors a little bit of everything – from hiking trails to chess tables.

Washington Square Park

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History

Washington Square Park has a varied history. Before it became a public park in 1823, the area was a marshland, part of a Native American village, the site of 18th century public executions, a military parade ground, and a “Potter’s Field” burial ground, where tens of thousands of indigent 18th century yellow fever victims lie.

In the mid-19th century, as living conditions grew more crowded in lower Manhattan, many of the city’s wealthier residents built large Greek revival mansions on the north side of the park. Many of these elegant residences still stand today.

Washington Square Park has been featured in several books and films, including Henry James’ novel, “Washington Square” (set in one of the Greek revival mansions mentioned above) and the film, “Searching for Bobby Fischer,” where the protagonist plays chess right in the park.

Art in Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park features a number of statues and public monuments. Chief among them is Washington Arch, erected in 1889 to commemorate the centennial of President George Washington’s (New York City) inaugural. The original Washington Arch was a temporary, wood and plaster affair. It was replaced in 1892 with the current 77-foot high, marble arch, designed by Stanford White.

The park also sports two statutes of George Washington, one by Alexander Calder (the father of the famous early 20th century artist) and one by Hermon MacNeil, as well a statute of Italian freedom fighter, Giuseppe Garibaldi. The large stone fountain in the center of the park was moved from Fifth Avenue and E 59th St. in the mid-1870’s.

Events

The park hosts a full schedule of concerts, theater presentations, and festivals throughout the year. In addition, Washington Square Park is popular with street musicians, mimes, and artists. Aspiring poets can frequently be found sharing their latest works with park visitors and adjacent New York University holds its commencement ceremonies in the park, weather permitting. Click for a list of upcoming events at Washington Square Park.

The Future of Washington Square Park

In 2005, developers proposed to redesign Washington Square Park. Among the prospective “improvements” were a fence around the perimeter of the park, the relocation of the central fountain and the Garibaldi Statue, and raising the park to be even with the street level. Needless to say, these proposals have been controversial and have met with opposition from NYU students and area residents. One of the chief concerns is that the construction will disturb the “hallowed ground” of the former cemetery. Time will tell whether these developers will be successful, but New Yorkers have a long history of fighting for their favorite spaces.

Visiting Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is easily accessible from all over Manhattan via the buses and subway line that run down Fifth Avenue. It is also a short walk from Greenwich Village, NYU, and Manhattan’s financial district.

The park is a popular meeting place for residents, NYU students, and tourists alike. There’s a kind of European town square feel to the park. Activities offered there include the permanent chess tables, extensive hiking and bike trails, a long leash-free dog run, bocce courts, lots of benches, and a children’s playground. The park is open from sunrise until 1am daily.

Location: at the foot of New York’s Fifth Avenue, in the heart of Greenwich Village, New York City
Phone: 212-677-6783

Click here to visit Washington Square Park official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with official website.

Governors Island | In the Heart of NY Harbor | NYC’s Backyard

by NYJ Team

Located in the heart of New York Harbor, this massive public park covers 172 acres and can be reached by a quick ferry ride from Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn. Governors Island is open to visitors from May 1st to October 31st and offers a picturesque, pedestrian-only environment with many events and activities including concerts, bike rentals and ample space for picnics and relaxing. It is a great destination in the summertime for those wanting to escape the heat of the city.

Governors Island

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An Island for His Majesty’s Governors

When the English captured New Amsterdam and renamed it New York in 1664, they took control of this island. It was then known as Nutten Island because the Native Americans of the region referred to it as as Pagganck, which means “Nut Island,” due to the many chestnut and hickory trees on the land. The island went back and forth between the Dutch and the English for about a decade until Britain finally gained exclusive control for the “benefit and accommodation of His Majesty’s Governors.” It was officially named Governors Island in 1784.

A Military History

Governors Island served as a military base by both the British and American forces for more than two centuries. After the revolution, New York State took control of the island and it was unused for many years until the War of 1812, when troops were stationed there to provide coastal defense. The island continued to be used for military purposes during the American Civil War and throughout the two World Wars. It became a major Coast Guard installation after the U.S. Military forces were consolidated in 1966, with a residential community of about 3,500 people.

A National Monument

Many historic events have taken place on Governors Island including the relighting of the renovated Statue of Liberty by President Reagan in 1986. The island has also hosted many key events including Reagan’s U.S.-U.S.S.R. summit with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988. Today 22 acres of the island have been declared the Governors Island National Monument, the centerpiece being two 1812-era fortresses.

A Public Space

New York City took over ownership of Governors Island from New York State in 2010. Mayor Bloomberg has transformed a large portion of the island into a public park. A popular place for picnicking and bike-riding, the island offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, Jersey City and downtown Manhattan. There are many outdoor and indoor spaces on the island available for public programs and events, and in the summer months the island hosts a busy schedule of concerts, festivals and activities.

Visiting Governors Island

Governors Island is located approximately half-mile south of Manhattan. It can be reached by a quick, free ferry ride from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street (next the Staten Island Ferry) in lower Manhattan or from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Location: In the heart of New York Harbor, New York City, NY

Click to visit Governors Island official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with official website.

Wall Street & the New York Stock Exchange

by NYJ Team

Wall Street, a narrow street in lower Manhattan between Broadway and the East River, was the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange, as well as the one-time headquarters for all of the major banks and brokerage houses in the United States. Although, all of the brokerages have moved elsewhere – to other quarters in New York’s financial district, New Jersey, and Connecticut – the term, “Wall Street” is still synonymous with the US financial markets.

Wall Street

Click for more details on the Wall Street district

History

Wall Street got its name in the 17th century, when it was the northern boundary of the original Dutch “New Amsterdam” settlement on Manhattan. There actually was, at one time, a wall on Wall Street. Wall Street and the surrounding New York financial district grew up around the New York Stock Exchange. At one time, virtually all of the US banks and brokerages were based in this small area. At the height of the “Gilded Age” in the late 19th and early 20th century, the area was known as the “House of Morgan”, referring to JP Morgan, the country’s largest bank and financier.

The attack on the World Trade Center in September 2001, has had the effect of speeding the exodus of companies from the concentrated financial district. Banks and brokerage headquarters can now be found all throughout suburban New York City.

New York Stock Exchange

The New York Stock Exchange, located at 11 Wall Street, is the largest stock exchange in the world. Its global capitalization is roughly 20 trillion dollars. The NYSE traces its history back to an event 1792, when 24 brokers and bankers signed the “Buttonwood Agreement”, named for a buttonwood tree that stood at the end of Wall Street. This agreement set into motion the creation of the system of buying and selling stocks that became the NYSE. Unlike the high-tech NASDAQ marketplace, at Times Square, the NYSE today operates much as it did 100 years ago, in an auction format with buyers and sellers’ agents meeting and deciding on a price right on the exchange’s trading floor.

Visiting Wall Street and the NYSE

Wall Street and the New York Financial District make a nice New York walking tour. The area is easily accessible from all parts of the city via subway, bus, and taxi.

Also within the financial district, at the corner of Wall St. and Nassau St., is Federal Hall National Memorial, the home of the first United States capital and the site of George Washington’s Presidential inauguration. Continuing along Wall Street to the East River, you come to South Street Seaport, a favorite of residents and visitors alike. This historic area was once the site of the Fulton fish market where the New York fishing fleet returned from their day in the harbor and sold their wares. Today, it is a combination shopping mall, museum, and entertainment complex, with spectacular views and a fleet of historic sailing ships.

Also not far from the financial district, at the tip of Manhattan, is Battery Park, a 32-acre waterfront, mixed-use park, which offers spectacular views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

A visit to Wall Street and the New York financial district is an interesting diversion from New York museums and shopping. The area’s imposing facades and rich history, capped with the spectacular views from the tip of Manhattan made a trip to Wall Street a must for any New York sightseeing trip.

Location: at 11 Wall Street, New York City, New York
Phone: 212-656-3000

Click to visit New York Stock Exchange official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with official website.