You'll be hard-pressed to find much "park" in this mainly concrete square -- a burial ground in the late 18th century -- but it's undeniably the focal point of Greenwich Village. Chess players, skateboarders, street musicians, New York University students, couples, the occasional film crew, and not a few homeless people compete for attention throughout the day and most of the night. (If anyone issues a friendly challenge to play you in the ancient and complex Chinese game of Go, don't take them up on it -- you'll lose money.)
In the 1830s, elegant Greek Revival town houses on Washington Square North, known as "The Row" (note especially nos. 21-26), attracted the elite. Stanford White designed Washington Arch (1891-92) to commemorate the centenary of George Washington's inauguration as first president. The arch was refurbished in 2004 and now features exterior lighting. From 2007 to 2009, the park underwent a controversial, $16-million-plus renovation that added a perimeter fence, increased green space, and shrank the central plaza.
- © Frommer's 2013
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