A treetop view of Washington Square Park

Judging by the automobiles entering the park near the Washington Arch, this looks like an early 1920s view of Washington Square.


So much is different from the park today though: no playground, no fences, no dog run. Just small-scale, landscaped walkways, an unglamorous fountain, and a mysterious little building in the center that could be a comfort station.

The back of the card tells of romance in the park. “Here is one of our little parks, so you can see it is not all business down here,” the presumably male writer says.

“I have often sat in this park with a girl quite a few nights. Not lately though.”

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4 Responses to “A treetop view of Washington Square Park”

  1. OmaK Says:

    Yes- That building was still there as a comfort station, with bathrooms separated by sex, when I was growing up in Washington Square in the 1960s. I disagree about the fountain. It was lovely and charming and we had lots of fun wading and splashing around in it as kids. Folk guitarists hung out and played on the perimeter of the fountain while we played in the water. When the park was “renovated” in the late 60s, all the charm and fun of the fountain was gone forever.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks OmaK. I should have been more specific when I called the fountain unglamorous–I meant that the folk scene there, which turned Washington Square Park into such a big downtown destination, had not arrived yet.

  3. Audrey Burtrum-Stanley Says:

    This was also the neighborhood of the famed artist / writer / sculptress/ etc.. ROSE O’NEILL, the creator of the Kewpie doll (and supposedly the inspiration for the tune ‘The Rose Of Washington Square.’) This is a terrific place!

    This lovely park location is probably best remembered today in movies…several films…but the one that immediately comes to mind is “WHEN HARRY MET SALLY.” This was their NY destination.

    Maybe some of your readership who know about film locations, might add a few more titles…

  4. thegildedbutler Says:

    Great blog. I really enjoy what you write about. Did you know that Washington Square is a massive grave yard with +20,000 bodies under it? In the 1700-mid 1800s it was used primarily for prisoners and the sick. There were gallows located near that fountain you discuss. I spend a lot of time there, but now that I know the history, it gives me the gitters :). I cover a different type of history largely based out of New York. Check out my site, http://www.TheGildedButler.com . Its focus is on the gilded age estates in NJ, NY, RH, and more. You may enjoy it, or even get some ideas for future posts 🙂


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