39. Washington Square Park
This past weekend, I went to visit my friend Daniel at NYU. NYU’s campus is, essentially, the perimeter of Washington Square Park.
After a romantic dinner together, we took a stroll through the lovely green space. We were talking about the park when, naturally, the conversation turned to Rectangles. I raised the following intellectual question:
Is Washington Square Park so named because it is (geometrically) a Square, and therefore a Rectangle?
The answer is no.
However, the park is, in fact, rectangular. This seems to be a result of the layout of Manhattan, which relies strongly and geometrically on the rectangle, featuring rectangular blocks made up of parallel streets and avenues. This is a very efficient choice, and I commend whoever designed La Bella Città.
Washington Square Park is located in Greenwich Village. It takes up a whopping 9.75 acres. It features a fancy arch, constructed in 1889 (and then reconstructed in 1892) to honor the centennial of the inauguration of George Washington as President of the United States.
There’s also a really nice fountain, and lots of people milling about, playing music and selling drugs n shit.
So, if it’s not a square, why is this park burdened with such a misnomer?
Interesting question. It’s named for George Washington – which explains the Washington part. The square part follows the tradition of calling public places “squares.” See Town Square. In Italy, they call them piazzas (not to be confused with pizzas). In Spain (and other Spanish speaking countries), the word is plaza. In French, the word is simply place. This seems much more efficient to me – Washington Place Park would clear up a lot of confusion on the rectangular front.
Washington Place Park is currently undergoing construction and rehabilitation. A large, L-shaped portion of the park is fenced off, leaving us with – what?? – a smaller rectangle, but a rectangle nonetheless.
Well, friends, now we know. Thanks to Daniel for the intellectual exploration.
Leave a Comment
Be the first to comment!