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Washington Square Arch Receives "Green" Lighting Upgrade

Friday, May 29, 2015
No. 50

New LED Lights Installed as Part of the City’s Efforts to be Energy Efficient

NYC Parks is pleased to announce an energy-efficient lighting upgrade to the iconic Washington Square Arch in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. The NYC Parks Energy and Sustainability Team, charged with helping the City achieve 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, led the project to install LED fixtures at the historic Arch.

The new state of the art fixtures were funded by a DCAS program known as Expenses for Conservation & Efficiency Leadership (ExCEL) and were designed and manufactured by ICON International in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Installed by NYC Parks electricians over three weeks this spring, the new lighting gives a warm ambient glow to the arch, while highlighting the sculptural ornamentation by Frederick MacMonnies, Philip Martiny and the Piccirilli Brothers, as well as the statues of Washington as Commander-in-Chief and President, by Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Alexander Stirling Calder.

The Energy and Sustainability Team worked closely with various divisions within Parks including Manhattan Operations, Arts and Antiquities, and Historic Preservation to ensure the new lighting system would have minimal impact on the structure, making use of existing pole-mounted, trench and cornice fixture locations.

“Thanks to Parks’ Energy and Sustainability Team, the classic Washington Square Arch has been updated with gorgeous LED lighting,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. “This environmentally friendly upgrade maintains the integrity of this historic structure, and contributes to Parks’ mission to reduce its carbon footprint. Most importantly, as we continue to build, design and update sustainably, we are keeping in mind the impact our actions have on the environment, on the economy and on future generations.”

LED lights are more reliable, longer-lasting, and provide uniform color and coherent light distribution. NYC Parks expects more reliable and effective functionality, and that minimal maintenance will be needed over their expected 8-10 year life span. Retrofitting the Arch with energy efficient lighting is part of a larger effort to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 80% by 2050 under Mayor Bill de Blasio's One City Built to Last plan. NYC Parks estimates the energy savings at the Arch will reduce 23.44 metric tons of CO2e Greenhouse Gas emissions annually and the estimated electrical savings is approximately $12,000/year.

In 1889 a temporary arch was installed just north of the park to commemorate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as president. The permanent arch, made of Tuckahoe marble, designed by noted architect Stanford White, was dedicated on May 4, 1895 and restored in 2004. A commanding landmark for more than a century, the arch stands 77-feet tall, and will now gleam by day and night.

The Energy and Sustainability team designs and implements retrofit projects across the agency as a means to reduce Parks’ energy use in cost effective ways. Retrofits involve modifying or changing equipment to more energy-efficient technologies, targeting one or multiple building systems, such as lighting or heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). Two of Parks' most successful retrofits types have been lighting upgrades and indoor pool covers.

NYC Parks wants to see your photos of the Washington Square Arch! Tweet us at @NYCParks, tag us on Instagram at @nycparks, or find us on Facebook at

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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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