Amazingly, the cast-iron fence built in 1771 to surround the park still stands.
But it was partly destroyed on the eve of the Revolutionary War, and you can still see the desecration if you look closely.
It happened on July 9, 1776. After the Declaration of Independence was read to Washington’s troops at nearby City Hall, a crowd of patriots, whipped into a frenzy, rushed to the park at the foot of Broadway.
There they toppled the statue of King George III the British had placed inside it—and they also sawed off the finials that crowned each post.
“[A] partially drunken mob, led by the patriot Isaac Sears, raced to the fence that surrounded the park,” states It Happened in New York City, cowritten by Fran Capo.
“Sears and the others systematically sawed off the king’s crowns on each of the thick supporting fence sections.”
You can still see the saw marks. What became of the finials is unclear, but the lead from the statue was melted down and used as ammo against the Redcoats.