When Union Square had a lovely fountain

Union Square has been around since 1839, when it opened with a large central fountain, according to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.

But when Union Square was ripped up during subway construction in the 1920s, the fountain went with it.

This postmarked, stamped 1910, doesn’t indicate what we’re looking at, but I think it’s Union Square West.

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12 Responses to “When Union Square had a lovely fountain”

  1. Chicken Underwear Says:

    Of course it is Union Sq West. Don’t you see the McDonald’s behind the tree.

  2. JP Says:

    That’s a Starbucks.

  3. Force Tube Avenue Says:

    Hi Wild,

    But seriously, it is Union Square West. The tall building in the center is the Bank of the Metropolis Building, and the building just uptown from it, with the distinctive tower is the Decker Building. Both are extant today.

    Here is a link with some facts:


  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Ah, thanks. It thought this was the stretch with the Deisel store on one end and Heartland Brewery on the other. And Blue Water Grill in between.

  5. Nabe News: September 13 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] Square actually had a fountain, but it was torn up during subway construction back in the 1920s [Ephemeral […]

  6. Amy Says:

    It’s Union Square West looking west at 16th Street. The tall skinny building on the corner is the building that used to be the Bank of Metropolis and is now where Blue Water Grill is located as the previous writer said. Is that really the Decker building next to it. Amazing cuppola on top…as if there weren’t enough ornamentation on the face of that building already. One other interesting factoid about the park. It is now raised not just because of the subways underneath, but also because when the IRT and the BMT lines were connected underground, rather than dig deep, the park was raised.

  7. aidel Says:

    Lovely. Where do you find this stuff??

  8. wildnewyork Says:

    Ephemera collectors! This one is particularly gorgeous, I agree.

  9. Elena Nogara Says:

    The two photos above represent the changes that occurred in Union Square between 1910, when it was opened, and 2010, after they had built the subway system. When Union Square was first built, it opened with a very big fountain as the central attraction. The design for Union Square was inspired by the fashionable and residential areas of London, which helped give emphasis to the oval shape of the park. As time went by, downtown New York City started to expand towards the north, creating a new and important commercial and residential area. In 1872, the design changed when Frederick Law Olmsted, who was also the mastermind behind Central Park, was asked to remove the enclosing fence, replant the park with a lot of trees and plants, as well as widen the sidewalks so they could meet public requirement. Unfortunately, Union Square was torn apart in the 1928 and 1929 due to construction for the new underground course for the subway. This included straightening up the streets, creating the grid-like design. Now Union Square is a very populated area where a lot of tourists go to visit, as well as a business area. The head quarters of the communist party used to be located in the north end of Union Square, and now you can find a Barnes and Noble in the same location. Union Square used to be the host for many political events, but is now mostly known for commercial purposes. For example, food is a very big part of Union Square, not only for the many restaurants and café’s, but also for the very important Food Market that takes place 4 days a week.

  10. Elena Nogara Says:

    This is the picture that was used for comparison.

  11. The Devoted Classicist Says:

    I worked nearby on Fifth Ave and 14th Street starting in 1980 and was warned not to venture within the park during lunchtime as it too dangerous a place. The raised turf made it an ideal place for drug dealers. At that time, most of the storefronts surrounding the park were vacant.

  12. A lovely view of Union Square, 1905 « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] an equally lovely view of Union Square from the same […]

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