It’s Not Abuse That Many People Live Through

Washington Square Park is being destroyed.

Not literally, of course. The fact of the matter is that probably, in the future, no one will notice. People who have never seen it before will not know it any other way. The people, like me, whose hearts this is breaking now will grow to love the new park as much as the old park, but that won’t stop us from bitching about the way it used to be.

The story: Washington Square Park has a long history. Like much of New York, it involves many reworkings of what the site was used for, additions and subtractions based on the whims of whoever was in control at the time, and the attempt to jerk it around by Robert Moses. What came of all this is a park that has character. The paths meander around, the arch over the entrance to the park (seen above in a photograph by David Shankbone) is totally sweet, and there’s no symmetry.

Well, there was no symmetry.

The city has decided to rip out the existing wading-pool fountain (hey, Moses did do some good) and redesign the park with the fountain in line with the arch. Aside from the fact that this will take away from the aesthetic appeal to a noticeable degree, it strikes me as the nastiest form of revisionist history, changing something to meet some imaginary new standard of attractiveness. The city has decided, essentially, that the designers who worked on the park through the centuries, who eventually led it to being one of the most important public spaces in New York, were wrong to do it the way they did.

I say, fuck that. I say, Washington Square Park is excellent. I say, the city government sometimes fails to see that the way they operate does not serve the people. There is no reason for this. It is wasting money, manpower, and time to make an “improvement” that no one wants.

And we’ll all just have to deal with it.