Friday, December 2, 2011

Union Square: Crossroads of New York

A view of Union Square
(white tents are for the Holiday market)
Union Square, a New York public square situated near Broadway and 14th street, is an important and fascinating historic intersection. This
weekend,Martin and I had the chance to explore and learn more about this lovely place as the Union Square Partnership offers a free walking tour on Saturdays: it was very interesting! The tour allows visitors and residents to discover the social and political history of the Union Square neighborhood through discussions about its people, history, architecture, etc.

Many of you must think that Union Square celebrates the Federal union of the United States; it is not the case. The name simply reflects the fact that two principal roads come together: Broadway and the former Bowery Road, now known as Fourth Avenue.

The oldest buildings of the public square
 At first a private square that belonged to the residents (at that time the neighborhood was more rural that urban), Union square was transformed into a public space at the end of the 1800 and soon became a site of social and political activism. Women and worker’s rights, as well as new types of trade (the first department store was born in Union Square), among other things, have evolved there.

After the Civil War, the Union Square neighborhood became largely commercial before going through some more difficult years (our guide told us the square’s nickname in the 1990s was Needle Park). Some changes, for example the construction of residential buildings and hotels, allowed it to regain interest and occupation. Union Square is now a New York Highlight and is home to the city’s oldest and largest Greenmarket. It is also the courtyard for thousands of residents.

More pictures:

The Greenmarket

Statue of Gandhi
Another beautiful statue
Some apartments built to improve the neighborhood
are hiding beautiful old buildings
The famous artwork of the square

What do you usually do in public squares? Read? Work? Observe the urban jungle?

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful post about the Union Square Partnership's walking tour! The photos are beautiful. We are so pleased that you enjoyed our free and hope that you will come back and visit (and write about) us often in the Square. All the best, The USP Team

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