NYU: Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is relatively small at only 9.75 acres; however, it is one of New York City's most recognizable spots. 


Washington Square Park is relatively small at only 9.75 acres; however, it is one of New York City's most recognizable spots. It is located in the heart of the famous Greenwich Village and is a big draw for both tourists and locals. If you are looking for apartments near NYU, you should learn something about this major feature of the neighborhood.



Like the rest of Manhattan, the area where Washington Square Park is located used to be inhabited by Native Americans. The Dutch evicted them and the land was given to African American slaves after they had served for a certain amount of time.

In 1797, the Common Council of New York purchased land east of the Minetta Creek. This is the land where Washington Square Park is today. The land was bought to bury those too poor to afford regular burial plots. An epidemic of Yellow fever struck a short while after and many of those who died in it were buried there. The cemetery remained in use until 1825 and there are 20,000 bodies still buried under Washington Square Park.

In 1826, the square was laid out and called the Washington Military Parade Ground. It was to be used as a space for militias to drill. There were townhouses built along its perimeter and it would become one of New York City's most popular neighborhoods. Many of the townhouses built during this period are still standing.

The arch was modeled after Paris's Arc de Triomphe and added in 1889 as a decoration for the inauguration of George Washington. The arch was made of wood and plaster and meant to be temporary. In 1892, it was replaced with a permanent one made from Tuckahoe marble.


The Neighborhood Around Washington Square Park

Greenwich Village has been famous around the world as a hub of artistic creativity. As the home of Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady Studio and the Electric Circus created by Andy Warhol and Lou Reed, Greenwich Village has long been known as New York's Bohemian capital. While the cost of living in this neighborhood is no longer friendly to starving artists, the old rebellious vibe still continues.


Things to Do Around Washington Square Park

Residents in apartments near NYU get numerous things to do in the Washington Square Park area; they can:

  • Visit Grey Art Gallery/NYU
    This is NYU’s fine arts museum and it looks out onto the park.
  • Spend an Evening at the Comedy Cellar
    If you are into stand-up comedy, the Comedy Cellar should be on your must-visit list. Not only will get to see up-and-coming performers, big name comics will sometimes get on stage to close out the show.
  • Enjoy Live Jazz at the Blue Note
    You will get to see performers up close and enjoy some baby back ribs at the same time. This jazz club has seen performances from jazz greats ranging from Dizzy Gillespie to David Sanborn.


Washington Square Park Events

Events are important if you are hunting for apartments near NYU. Consider the following:

  • Shakespeare in the Square NYU
    NYU holds an annual spring production of a selected Shakespeare work.
  • Annual Benefit for Washington Square Park
    This event raises funds to pay for the park’s maintenance staff as well as for a gardener.
  • The Dachshund Spring Fiesta
    The Dachshund Spring Fiesta is a gathering for owners of dachshunds and their dogs.