Up for Anything? Meet Me At Washington Square Park

on May 6, 2013

Aerial NYC

Washington Square Park is one of the more vibrant parks in the U.S. It’s filled with the energy of beatniks, sun revelers, pot tokers, beat boxers, break dancers, kissing couples and maybe even the odd mystic prophet.

It’s best to visit this 9.5-acre park in non-winter months to see it in all its quirky glory. I happen to believe that North America doesn’t do parks well; we’re not parks people. This is partly because of poor urban planning, partly because of excessive commercialization.  But Washington Square Park is an exception. It conjures up visions of the great parks in London, England, where public gathering spots are as common as McDonalds.

Located at the foot of Fifth Avenue, Washington Square Park is stocked full of musical performers, dance troupes, jugglers and maybe even the odd screaming match. But that’s what makes it so much fun. You never know what to expect here. In a way, there’s so much buzz that it can become a kind of white noise while you tear through that great new novel, or paint a picture. Whatever you want to do, it’s cool here. AMERICA!! F-yeah!

You know those cool built-in outdoor chess tables you see in the movies? Washington Square Park’s got ‘em. Legendary film director Stanley Kubrick used to play here! Remember Searching for Bobby Fischer.

While we’re on the topic of celebs, how about Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Will Smith (I Am Legend)? Obama even held a rally here when he ran for president in 2007. It was an historic moment.

The centrepiece of this great park is the fountain, where park-goers can cool-off if the summer sun gets too toasty. In 1889, to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as president of the United States, a large plaster and wood Memorial Arch was erected over Fifth Avenue just north of the park.

Right smack in beautiful Greenwich Village, this park is surrounded by the bustling NYU campus.

In recent years, the pet-friendly Washington Square Park has undergone significant renovations to make it more comfortable for all people — lovers, families, seniors, you name it. Wonderful new landscaping and expanded lawns for lazing highlight these changes.

Washington Square Park is also known as a hub for rallies and protests. It’s the home of the infamous “Beatnik Riots” of 1961, so don’t be surprised if your visit here suddenly becomes political. But hey, that’s what this spot is all about: the unexpected.