Jackson Square Park Is October’s Park Of The Month
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Jackson Square Park has been named October’s Park of the Month. Located at the intersection of 8th and Greenwich Avenues and Horatio Street, the triangular park was formed along the diagonal route of Greenwich Avenue, the oldest known road in Greenwich Village. The popular community park has undergone a recent horticultural transformation by the work of Parks gardeners and features seating areas and a fountain as its centerpiece.
“Thanks to the work of Parks gardeners and community groups, Jackson Square Park has been completely transformed into an oasis of flowers, shrubs and trees surrounding a handsome fountain,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “The park provides a welcome respite for people who visit, live and work in the West Village. I encourage all New Yorkers to spend some quiet moments in Jackson Square Park—one of New York City’s oldest and most beautiful small parks.”
It is not clear how, when, or why the site came to be called Jackson Square. Most likely it was named after Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), the seventh President of the United States who was very popular with the leaders of Tammany Hall. The earliest reference found to Jackson Square appears in the Second Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Department of Parks in 1872. According to the report, Jackson Square was one of twenty-nine properties mapped and improved as parkland by the City.
In 1887 Mayor Abram S. Hewitt promoted a citywide effort to improve public access to the parks and squares that were entirely enclosed by iron fencing. Parks superintendent Samuel Parsons Jr. and consulting architect Calvert Vaux collaborated on a new design for Jackson Square. In an 1892 article for Scribner’s Magazine, Parsons described the central area as “a great bouquet of brilliant flowers and leaves.” He noted proudly, “The neighborhood of this park is respectable but populous, and it is wonderful on a warm evening to see the dense masses of people that crowd the park benches and smooth asphalt walks.”
In 1913, Parks gardeners planted a new school garden plot at Jackson Square and left its upkeep to the “little farmers” in the neighborhood. The park underwent renovations in the 1930s, when seventeen pin oaks were planted on the perimeter, the shower basin was replaced by a new wading pool, and new benches were installed. The park remained substantially unchanged for over fifty years, until a capital reconstruction project was completed in 1990. It included planting new greenery and restoring the historic iron fencing and benches. The centerpiece, a new cast-iron fountain with planters and a granite base, evokes the 19th-century origins of Jackson Square Park.