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Thomas Paine Park

Lafayette St., Centre St. bet. Worth St., Pearl St. and Duane St.

Manhattan

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This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This park in the heart of New York City's civic center is named for patriot, author, humanitarian, and political visionary Thomas Paine (1737-1809). The land that is now Thomas Paine Park was once part of a freshwater swamp surrounded, ironically, by three former British prisons for revolutionaries. One of them was The Bridewell, the infamous detention center where many inmates died from wind and cold exposure while awaiting sentencing. After the war, the area went through more hard times. In the 19th century, it was part of one of the most notorious slums in the country: Five Points, a community of predominantly Irish immigrants. After calls for reform, the City acquired and condemned most of the unsafe buildings between 1887 and 1894.

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