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Washington Square Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, May 23, 2001


Photo by Malcolm (Cinema) Pinckney

If, in 1952, City Hall, the Board of Estimate, New York University, and elected officials had had their way, cars, motorcycles, and buses would be running through Washington Square Park. There'd be giant car wheels instead of roller skate and bicycle wheels. Car horns would drown out bird song, and fumes would mask the smell of blossoms. Kids would walk ten minutes more to find big parks and well equipped playgrounds. Students would have a campus green sliced up into slivers. There would be altogether less chess playing and street performing, less green, and more traffic if they'd had their way. But they didn't. Someone else had her way. Shirley (Resistance) Hayes led the campaign to "Save the Square" in the early 1950s and she succeeded. Thanks to her campaign, Washington Square Park is and will remain a whole park open to people, closed to cars.

On Tuesday, May 22, Parks honored Ms. Hayes by unveiling an historical sign that tells of her fight. Adrian (A-Train) Benepe, Manhattan Borough Commissioner; Anthony (Vesuvio) Dapolito of Community Board 2, and the guest of honor's four sons Dennis, Timothy, Christopher, and Kerry stood by Shirley Hayes' side at the event. From the new sign, visitors will learn that Washington Square Park was rescued by community members who used it and knew it intimately. Shirley Hayes led her campaign as a savvy citizen and a mother of four children-Dennis, Timothy, Christopher, and Kerry. She and her neighbors protected the park because they knew it was valuable. They knew it was valuable because they used it themselves. The story of Shirley Hayes and Washington Square Park is the story of a park user becoming a park advocate.

Fans of Washington Square Park may be interested to know that the Berry Hill Gallery, located at 11 East 70th street is now curating an exhibit of the art of Washington Square Park. Proceeds from their opening tonight will benefit the restoration of the Washington Square Arch.


150 years ago, Far Rockaway was a natural habitat for beachside plants. Sixty years ago, it was a popular seaside vacation colony. Today, the Greenstreets program is linking these two historic periods in their designs for new greenstreets.

In the summer of 2000 the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association in Far Rockaway asked the Greenstreets office to help them rejuvenate their community, by planting a greenstreet around their neighborhood welcome sign. At that time, the site was covered with litter and weeds, and the surrounding fence, built from old ship parts, had deteriorated.

Greenstreets swooped in like emerald-avengers. By the time they were finished, the site was completely transformed. From the litter and weeds sprung Phlaris grass, Bar Harbor Juniper, and Rosa Rogusa. The sign was repainted a nautical gray and the fence repainted too.

This summer, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists will enjoy the seaside greenstreets as they travel down Seagirt Boulevard. Six new plantings there will entice them to reflect on the unique beachside environment. Each greenstreet will be planted with native Amelanchier trees planted on berms to simulate dunes. Phlaris grass will blow in the sea breeze, and the sword-like Yucca plant will border the sites, forming a natural fence. These new greenstreets, designed to complement each other and the surrounding landscape, will make exciting additions to the 39 greenstreets that currently thrive in Far Rockaway.

By Peter (Seagirt) Kelly


Come hear the next Parks presentation in a lecture series hosted by the Municipal Engineers Society. Stacy (Tigress) Sonnenberg, Chief of Technical Services, will deliver a talk entitled Cooperative Engineering: The Complex Relationship between Engineering, Maintenance, and Operations. You can attend this free event Wednesday, May 23 at the Surrogates Court in lower Manhattan: 31 Chambers Street, 5th floor. The lecture will begin at 5:30 p.m. For more information, please contact Nicole (Luna) Clare at (718) 760-6942.

(Wednesday, May 25, 1988)


Hundreds of local residents, Parks lifeguards, schoolchildren, members of the Polar Bear Club, a snake charmer and tattooed man joined Mayor Edward I. Koch, Commissioner Stern and Councilmember Sam Horowitz at Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn yesterday to mark the 50th anniversary of Coney Island becoming a city park. A week before New York City's six public beaches officially open on Memorial Day weekend, the gala highlighted the legendary past, lively present and bright future of "America's Playground."


"I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom."

Bob Dylan (b. 1941)

Directions to Washington Square Park

Know Before You Go

ParkWashington Square Park

NYC Parks is currently undergoing a thorough inspection of all trees in Washington Square Park. The last inspection occurred roughly two years ago and immediate hazards were identified and resolved. As of August 8, our Manhattan Forestry unit will be pruning approximately 270 trees over several days. Additionally, there will be one removal of a 32-inch pin oak with root rot in the northwest section of the park to ensure public safety.

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