Union Square Park. Urban Park in New York City, New York

Union Square Park

Urban Park in New York City, New York

Last Light Photo © Eric

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Union Square Park

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Union Square . . . - Union Square Park
Union Square . . . - Union Square Park. Photo by David Robert Bliwas
Union Square Park is a historically significant park, located at the intersection of Broadway and Fourth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City. The name was given because of the fact that, at the time of construction, the square united the two main streets in Manhattan. Union Square Park is bordered by 17th Street, Union Square West, 14th Street and Union Square East and is surrounded by the well-known neighborhoods of Chelsea, the Flatiron District, East Village, and Greenwich Village.

The park is famous for its huge equestrian statue of President George Washington, which dates back to 1856 and was the first public statue in the city since the statue of King George III in 1770. The park is home to many other statues as well. In addition to statues and sculptures, Union Square Park is where the oldest and largest Greenmarket in the city is held. The park is also a popular site for political rallies, public protests, festivals, and events. The very first Labor Day Parade, for example, take place there in 1882.

NYC: Union Square -
	General George Washington Statue - Union Square Park
NYC: Union Square - General George Washington Statue - Union Square Park. Photo by Wally Gobetz

History

The park’s history goes back to 1811, which was when the grid lay-out plan of Manhattan was approved. Before 1811, the site had been in use as a potter’s field, a burial place. The area was named Union Place because of the intersection of two major roads, Broadway and Fourth Avenue, which at the time were known as Bloomingdale Road and Bowery Road. The place was officially declared a public park in 1831.

In 1839 the center of the square was redesigned as an oval-shaped, fenced park with a large fountain in the middle. A decade later, the surrounding area had become the home of wealthy residents and merchants. The streets were paved and trees were planted. The only remaining buildings of that period are 862-866 Broadway, a series of brick houses of three or four stories high.

Two renowned architects, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, were hired to redesign the park again in 1872. They had gained their fame after designing and building Central Park. Their new plans included the removal of the fence and opening up of the square, mainly to allow large rallies, which were already taking place there.

In 1882, the first Labor Day Parade took place at Union Square Park. During the Great Depression (Wikipedia
	Article) in the 1930s, it was the site of worker’s rallies, and in 1970 it was where the very first Earth Day was held.

Visiting Union Square Park

The present-day Greenmarket was created in 1976 and attracts many visitors – in the peak season there are 250,000 customers per week. The market is held all year round on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays, and Saturdays between 8AM and 6PM. This is where regional farmers sell their fresh produce and products. It is truly unique to be able to visit a farmers market in a huge city like New York City. Farmers often have to travel more than 145 kilometers to get there. During the winter holidays, from late-November to late-December, the park is home to the Union Square Holiday Market. Then, stalls are filled with craftsmen and women selling products ranging from jewelry and candles to perfumes and clothes.

The markets take place in the northern section of the park, which is paved. The park’s central area consists of a lawn, pedestrian paths, many trees and lots of statues and sculptures. The most important statue is the one of George Washington; other notable ones are the Marquis de Lafayette statue the statue of Abraham Lincoln and the statue of Mohandas Ghandi. The Marquis de Lafayette statue, by the way, was sculpted by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi who is best known for designing and creating the Statue of Liberty. The south section of the park contains a plaza that is still regularly used by political activists and protesters. Other facilities and attractions in Union Square Park are a drinking fountain, the children’s playground, Evelyn’s Playground, which is often regarded as the best playground in the city, and the seasonal restaurant, The Pavilion.

Union Square Park is surrounded by several great restaurants, department stores and bars. It is a bustling place throughout the year and a popular meeting place because of its close proximity to many subway routes.

Pink Tulips - Union
	Square Park
Pink Tulips - Union Square Park. Photo by Eric

How to Get There

There are three 14th Street / Union Square subway stations near the park. The subway trains that stop there are 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R and W. The park can easily be reached from anywhere in New York City.

Similar and Nearby Landmarks

There are countless other urban public parks in the city. The most well-known are Battery Park, Washington Square Park, the High Line, Central Park, Bryant Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Jan 07, 2015

Pictures of Union Square Park

Union Square Park - Union Square Park
Union Square Park - Photo by Dickson

winter wonderland - Union Square Park
winter wonderland - Union Square Park. Photo by Lucio Santos

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