Union Square looking north from 14th Street (May 2010)
|Location||Manhattan, New York City|
|Built||1882 (laid out c. 1832)|
|Architect||Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, et al.|
|NRHP reference #||97001678|
|Added to NRHP||December 9, 1997|
|Designated NHL||December 9, 1997|
Union Square is a historic intersection and surrounding neighborhood in Manhattan, New York City, located where Broadway and the former Bowery Road – now Fourth Avenue – came together in the early 19th century; its name denotes that "here was the union of the two principal thoroughfares of the island". The current Union Square Park is bounded by 14th Street on the south, Union Square West on the west side, 17th Street on the north, and on the east Union Square East, which links together Broadway and Park Avenue South to Fourth Avenue and the continuation of Broadway. The park is under the aegis of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
Manhattan, often referred to locally as the City, is the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City and its economic and administrative center, cultural identifier, and historical birthplace. The borough is coextensive with New York County, one of the original counties of the U.S. state of New York. The borough consists mostly of Manhattan Island, bounded by the Hudson, East, and Harlem rivers; several small adjacent islands; and Marble Hill, a small neighborhood now on the U.S. mainland, physically connected to the Bronx and separated from the rest of Manhattan by the Harlem River. Manhattan Island is divided into three informally bounded components, each aligned with the borough's long axis: Lower, Midtown, and Upper Manhattan.
The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.
Broadway is a road in the U.S. state of New York. Broadway runs from State Street at Bowling Green for 13 mi (21 km) through the borough of Manhattan and 2 mi (3.2 km) through the Bronx, exiting north from the city to run an additional 18 mi (29 km) through the municipalities of Yonkers, Hastings-On-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, and Tarrytown, and terminating north of Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County.
Adjacent neighborhoods are the Flatiron District to the north, Chelsea to the west, Greenwich Village to the southwest, East Village to the southeast, and Gramercy Park to the east. Many buildings of The New School are near the square,as are several dormitories of New York University. The eastern side of the square is dominated by the four Zeckendorf Towers, the Consolidated Edison Building, on the former site of the bargain-priced department store, S. Klein, and the south side by the full-square block mixed-use One Union Square South (Davis Brody Bond, 1999). It features a kinetic wall sculpture and digital clock expelling bursts of steam, titled Metronome . Among the heterogeneous assortment of buildings along the west side is the Decker Building.
The Flatiron District is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, named after the Flatiron Building at 23rd Street, Broadway and Fifth Avenue.
Chelsea is a neighborhood on the West Side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The district's boundaries are roughly 14th Street to the south, the Hudson River and West Street to the west, and Sixth Avenue to the east, with its northern boundary variously described as near the upper 20s or 34th Street, the next major crosstown street to the north. To the northwest of Chelsea is the neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen, as well as Hudson Yards; to the northeast are the Garment District and the remainder of Midtown South; to the east are NoMad and the Flatiron District; to the southwest is the Meatpacking District; and to the south and southeast are the West Village and the remainder of Greenwich Village.
Greenwich Village often referred to by locals as simply "the Village", is a neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan, New York City, within Lower Manhattan. Broadly, Greenwich Village is bounded by 14th Street to the north, Broadway to the east, Houston Street to the south, and the Hudson River to the west. Greenwich Village also contains several subsections, including the West Village west of Seventh Avenue and the Meatpacking District in the northwest corner of Greenwich Village.
Union Square is noted for its impressive equestrian statue of U.S. President George Washington, modeled by Henry Kirke Brown and unveiled in 1856, the first public sculpture erected in New York City since the equestrian statue of George III in 1770, and the first American equestrian sculpture cast in bronze; the historic moment depicted is Evacuation Day, November 25, 1783, when the British left the city and General Washington triumphantly led his troops back into the city.Other statues in the park include the Marquis de Lafayette, modeled by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and dedicated at the Centennial, July 4, 1876, Abraham Lincoln , modeled by Henry Kirke Brown (1870), and the James Fountain (1881), a Temperance fountain with the figure of Charity who empties her jug of water, aided by a child; it was donated by Daniel Willis James and sculpted by Adolf Donndorf. A statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the southwest corner of the park was added in 1986.
The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.
George Washington was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father who also served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. He led Patriot forces to victory in the nation's War of Independence, and he presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 which established the new federal government. He has been called the "Father of His Country" for his manifold leadership in the formative days of the new nation.
Henry Kirke Brown was an American sculptor.
The 14th Street – Union Square New York City Subway station, served by the 4 , 5 , 6 , <6> , L , N , Q , R , and W trains, is located under Union Square.
14th Street–Union Square is a New York City Subway station complex shared by the BMT Broadway Line, the BMT Canarsie Line and the IRT Lexington Avenue Line. It is located at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and 14th Street, underneath Union Square in Manhattan, and is served by the:
The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the City of New York and leased to the New York City Transit Authority, a subsidiary agency of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Opened in 1904, the New York City Subway is one of the world's oldest public transit systems, one of the world's most used metro systems, and the metro system with the most stations. It offers service 24 hours per day on every day of the year, though some routes may operate only part-time.
The 4 Lexington Avenue Express is a rapid transit service in the A Division of the New York City Subway. Its route emblem, or "bullet", is colored forest green since it uses the IRT Lexington Avenue Line in Manhattan.
At the time that John Randel was surveying the island in preparation for the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, the Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) angled away from the Bowery at an acute angle that would have been so awkward to build on, that the Commissioners decided to form a square at the union.In 1815, by act of the state legislature, this former potter's field became a public commons for the city, at first named Union Place.
John Randel, Jr. (1787–1865) was an American surveyor, cartographer, civil engineer and inventor from Albany, New York who completed a full survey of Manhattan Island from 1808–1817, in service of the creation of the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, which determined that New York City – which consisted at the time of only Manhattan – would in the future be laid out in a rectilinear grid of streets.
The Commissioners' Plan of 1811 was the original design for the streets of Manhattan above Houston Street and below 155th Street, which put in place the rectangular grid plan of streets and lots that has defined Manhattan to this day. It has been called "the single most important document in New York City's development," and the plan has been described as encompassing the "republican predilection for control and balance ... [and] distrust of nature". It was described by the Commission that created it as combining "beauty, order and convenience."
The Bowery is a street and neighborhood in the southern portion of the New York City borough of Manhattan. The street runs from Chatham Square at Park Row, Worth Street, and Mott Street in the south to Cooper Square at 4th Street in the north. The eponymous neighborhood runs roughly from the Bowery east to Allen Street and First Avenue, and from Canal Street north to Cooper Square/East Fourth Street. To the south is Chinatown, to the east are the Lower East Side and the East Village, and to the west are Little Italy and NoHo. It has historically been considered a part of the Lower East Side.
In 1832, at a time when the space was surrounded by empty lots, Samuel Ruggles, one of the founders of the Bank of Commerce and the developer of Gramercy Park to the northeast, convinced the city to rename the area as "Union Square" and enlarge the commons to 17th Street on the north and extend the axis of University Place to form the square's west side.Ruggles obtained a fifty-year lease on most of the surrounding lots from 15th to 19th Streets, where he built sidewalks and curbs. In 1834, he convinced the Board of Aldermen to enclose and grade the square, then sold most of his leases and in 1839 built a four-storey house facing the east side of the Square.
Gramercy Park is the name of both a small, fenced-in private park and the surrounding neighborhood that is referred to also as Gramercy, in the New York City borough of Manhattan in New York, United States.
University Place is a short north–south thoroughfare in Manhattan, New York City, which runs from Washington Square Park in the south as a continuation of Washington Square East, taking the position of Madison Avenue uptown, and terminates at East 14th Street just southwest of Union Square. Although the roadway continues north of 14th Street as Union Square West, the two streets run in opposite directions, both feeding into 14th Street. Until the late 1990s, University Place was a two-way street. The street contains numerous shops and restaurants, many of which cater to students at NYU and The New School.
An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many jurisdictions founded upon English law. The term may be titular, denoting a high-ranking member of a borough or county council, a council member chosen by the elected members themselves rather than by popular vote, or a council member elected by voters.
A fountain was built in the center of Union Square to receive water from the Croton Aqueduct, completed in 1842. In 1845, as the square finally began to fill with affluent houses, $116,000 was spent in paving the surrounding streets and planting the square, in part owing to the continued encouragement of Ruggles. The sole survivors of this early phase, though they have been much adapted and rebuilt, are a series of three- and four-story brick rowhouses, 862–866 Broadway, at the turn where Broadway exits the square at 17th Street. The Everett House on the corner of 17th Street and Fourth Avenue (built 1848, demolished 1908) was for decades one of the city's most fashionable hotels.
In the early years of the park a fence surrounded the square's central oval planted with radiating walks lined with trees. In 1872, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vauxwere called in to replant the park, as an open glade with clumps of trees.
At first the square, the last public space that functioned as the entrance to New York City,was largely residential – the Union League Club first occupied a house loaned for the purpose by Henry G. Marquand at the corner of 17th Street and Broadway – but after the Civil War the neighborhood became largely commercial, and the square began to lose social cachet at the turn of the twentieth century. Tiffany & Co., which had moved to the square from Broadway and Broome Street in 1870, left its premises on 15th Street to move uptown to 37th Street in 1905; the silversmiths Gorham Company moved up from 19th Street in 1906. The last of the neighborhood's free-standing private mansions, Peter Goelet's at the northeast corner of 19th Street, made way for a commercial building in 1897.
The Rialto, New York City's first commercial theater district, was located in and around Union Square beginning in the 1870s. It was called the Rialto after the commercial district in Venice.The theater district gradually re-located northward, into less expensive and undeveloped uptown neighborhoods, and eventually into the current Theater District.
Before the Civil War, theatres in New York City were primarily located along Broadway and the Bowery up to 14th Street, with those on Broadway appealing more to the middle and upper classes and the Bowery theatres attracting immigrant audiences, clerks and the working class. After the war, the development of the Ladies' Mile shopping district along Fifth and Sixth Avenues above 14th Street had the effect of pulling the playhouses uptown, so that a "Rialto" theatrical strip came about on Broadway between 14th and 23rd Streets, between Union Square and Madison Square.
At the same time, a transition from stock companies, in which a resident acting company was based around a star or impresario, to a "combination" system, in which productions were put together on a one-time basis to mount a specific play, expanded the amount of outside support needed to service the theatrical industry. Thus, suppliers of props, costumes, wigs, scenery, and other theatrical necessities grew up around the new theatres. The new system also needed an organized way to engage actors for these one-off productions, so talent brokers and theatrical agents sprang up, as did theatrical boardinghouses, stage photographers, publicity agencies, theatrical printers and play publishers. Along with the hotels and restaurants which serviced the theatregoers and shoppers of the area, the Union Square Rialto was, by the end of the century, a thriving theatrical neighborhood, which would soon nonetheless migrate uptown to what became known as "Broadway" as the Rialto became subsumed into the more vice-oriented Tenderloin entertainment district.
The park has historically been the start or the end point for many political demonstrations. In April 1861, soon after the fall of Fort Sumter, it was the site of a patriotic rally of perhaps a quarter of a million people that is thought to have been the largest public gathering in North America up to that time. In the summer of 1864 the north side of the square was the site of the Metropolitan Fair.
Union Square has been a frequent gathering point for radicals of all stripes to make speeches or demonstrate. In 1865, the recently formed Irish republican Fenian Brotherhood came out publicly and rented Dr. John Moffat's brownstone rowhouse at 32 East 17th Street, next to the Everett House hotel facing the north side of the square, for the capitol of the government-in-exile they declared.On September 5, 1882, in the first Labor Day celebration, a crowd of at least 10,000 workers paraded up Broadway and filed past the reviewing stand at Union Square. Although the park was known for its labor union rallies and for the large 1861 gathering in support of Union troops, it was actually named for its location at the "union" of Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) and Eastern Post Road (now extinct) decades before these gatherings. On March 28, 1908, an anarchist set off a bomb in Union Square which only killed himself and another man.
On August 21, 1893, Emma Goldman took the stage at Union Square to make her "Free Bread" speech to a crowd of overworked garment workers. She also addressed a crowd on May 20, 1916, on the need for free access to birth control which was banned by the Comstock laws. Her visits to Union Square pulled hundreds of followers; some of these rallies resulted in her arrest. Union Square has been used as a platform to raise awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Square's shopping district saw strikes in the S.Klein and Ohrbach department stores in 1934. White collar workers were among the worst paid in Great Depression era New York City, with union memberships being highly discouraged by store managers and often seen as fireable offenses. These strikes often involved acts of disobedience by the workers as many of them did not want to lose their jobs.This period saw Union Square as a gathering point for many of the cities socialist and communist groups. The centennial of Union Square was seen as a thinly veiled effort to displace those elements with its draping of the square with flags and police demonstrations of anti protester drills.
Union Square was named a National Historic Landmark in 1997, primarily to honor it as the site of the first Labor Day parade.
In the days and weeks following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Union Square became a primary public gathering point for mourners. People created spontaneous candle and photograph memorials in the park and vigils were held to honor the victims. This was a natural role for the Square as Lower Manhattan below 14th Street, which forms Union Square's southern border, briefly became a "frozen zone," with no non-emergency vehicles allowed and pedestrians sometimes stopped and asked why they were venturing south by police and national guardsmen. In fact, for the first few days following the attacks, only those who could prove residency below 14th Street could pass. The Square's tradition as a meeting place in times of upheaval was also a factor.
In March 2008, an eighteen-month renovation began on the northern end of the park. Proponents of the plan describe it as the completion of a renovation of Union Square Park that began in the mid-1980s that will improve the park by increasing the amount and quality of playground space, improving the quality and function of the public plaza, rehabilitating the badly deteriorating bandshell structure, improving the working conditions for park employees, and maintaining the "eyes on the street" presence of a restaurant at the heart of the park. Protests and political action in response to the original renovation plans resulted in a reduction in the degree to which the pavilion was to be renovated, a reduction in the total amount of space that the restaurant would occupy, and an increase in the amount of dedicated play space, but stiff opposition remains to the idea that any commercial uses might occupy the pavilion. Despite the fact that the overall amount of play space in the park will be increased as a result of the renovation, those critical of the plan claim that the bandshell pavilion itself ought to be converted to play space.The fate of the historic pavilion building is uncertain and has been brought before the State Supreme Court. On March 30, 2009, a judge dismissed the lawsuit against the renovation, paving the way for a seasonal restaurant in the pavilion.
One element of contention not related to the restaurant concession is the inclusion of a single line of street trees, spaced 30 feet (9.1 m) apart, along the north side of the plaza. Despite rumors to the contrary, the inclusion of trees was made possible without reducing the usable gathering space of the plaza by the simultaneous decision to remove a painted median strip, that had separated eastbound and westbound traffic along 17th Street, thus increasing the northern limits of the plaza by several feet. Some critics feel that this line of trees will make the space less useful for large rallies although no barriers to free movement across 17th Street are being introduced and the "temporary" metal rails, welded together to make a continuous fence along the north side of the site, will be removed as part of the renovation of the plaza. A double line of trees along 17th Street had been planted years earlier as a monument to victims of the Armenian Genocide.
During the renovation the Union Square Greenmarket was temporarily relocated to the west side of the park, returning to the north end by April 4, 2009.
The Villager , a local newspaper, reported in 2013 that most of the street chess players at Washington Square Park—where Bobby Fischer had played—had moved their games to Union Square because the latter had more foot traffic.Street chess players play fast chess with passers-by for three to five dollars a game, with time controls of five minutes on each side being the most common. Writer Lauren Snetiker at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation also documents this migration of the historical Washington Square Park chess scene to Union Square, noting the "dozens of chess players [who] sit on crates and bring their own boards... as there are no permanent ones like there are in Washington Square Park".
In 1976, the Council on the Environment of New York City (now GrowNYC) established the Greenmarket program, which provided regional small family farmers with opportunities to sell their fruits, vegetables and other farm products at open-air markets in the city. There were originally seven farmers at the first Greenmarket, and their selection sold out by noon.That summer, two more markets opened in New York City. Despite some backlash from local merchants and supermarkets who believed the Greenmarket was cutting into their profits, more markets opened in the city.
Today, the Union Square Greenmarket – the best-known of the markets – is held Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays between 8 AM and 6 PM year round. The market is served by a number of regional farmers, as the average distance between farmers and the market is 90 miles (140 km). During peak seasons, the Greenmarket serves more than 250,000 customers per week, who purchase more than one thousand varieties of fruits and vegetables can be found at the Greenmarket; and the variety of produce available is much broader than what is found in a conventional supermarket.
Union Square is also known for the Union Square Holiday Market, which is held November 23 through December 24. Temporary booths are filled with over 100 craftsmen, who sell items ranging from candles and perfume to knitted scarves and high-end jewelry.
Union Square is a popular meeting place, given its central location in Manhattan and its many nearby subway routes. There are many bars and restaurants on the periphery of the square, and the surrounding streets have some of the city's most renowned (and expensive) restaurants. S. Klein's department store promoted itself in the mid-20th century as an "On the Square" alternative to higher prices uptown, and late in the century several big-box chain stores established a presence, including Barnes & Noble, Babies "R" Us and Staples.
The W Union Square Hotel is located at the park's northeast corner, in the landmark building that formerly housed The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. Additionally, the Hyatt Union Square New York hotel is located at the park's southeast corner, in a former post office.
The Union Square Partnership (USP), a business improvement district (BID) and a local development corporation (LDC), was formed in 1984 and became a model for other BIDs in New York City. As of 2006 it had a US$1.4 million budget. Jennifer E. Falk became its executive director in January 2007.
The Union Square Partnership provides a free public Wi-Fi network in Union Square.
The Washington Irving High School building at 40 Irving Place between East 16th and 17th Streets, just a block off of Union Square, was formerly the location of a comprehensive high school, but now houses Gramercy Arts High School, the High School for Language and Diplomacy, the International High School at Union Square, the Union Square Academy for Health Sciences and the Academy for Software Engineering. In 2012, Success Academy Charter Schools announced its plan to open an elementary school, Success Academy Union Square, in the building in 2013.As of mid-2015, this has not occurred.
Also in the Union Square neighborhood is the original building of Stuyvesant High School at 345 East 15th Street, now known as the "Old Stuyvesant Campus", and housing the Institute for Collaborative Education, the High School for Health Professions and Human Services, and P.S. 226.
Houston Street is a major east-west thoroughfare in downtown Manhattan, running crosstown across the full width of the island of Manhattan, from Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive and East River Park on the East River to Pier 40 and West Street on the Hudson River. It generally serves as the boundary between neighborhoods, with Alphabet City, the East Village, NoHo, Greenwich Village, and the West Village lying to the north of the street, and the Lower East Side, most of the Bowery, Nolita, and SoHo to the south. The numeric street-naming grid in Manhattan, created as part of the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, begins immediately north of Houston Street with 1st Street at Avenue A, although the grid does not fully come into effect until 13th Street.
Forsyth Street runs from Houston Street south to Henry Street in the New York City borough of Manhattan. The street was named in 1817 for Lt. Colonel Benjamin Forsyth.
Astor Place is a one-block street in NoHo/East Village, in the lower part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It runs from Broadway in the west, just below East 8th Street; to Lafayette Street, ending at Alamo plaza. "Astor Place" is also sometimes used for the neighborhood around the street. It encompasses two plazas at the intersection with Cooper Square, Lafayette Street, Fourth Avenue, and Eighth Street – Alamo Plaza and Astor Place Station Plaza. It was named for John Jacob Astor, soon after his death in 1848. A $21 million reconstruction to implement a redesign of Astor Place began in 2013.
Stuyvesant Street is one of the oldest streets in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It runs diagonally from 9th Street at Third Avenue to 10th Street near Second Avenue, all within the East Village, Manhattan neighborhood. The majority of the street is included in the St. Mark's Historic District.
The BMT Broadway Line is a rapid transit line of the B Division of the New York City Subway in Manhattan, New York City, United States. As of November 2016, it is served by four services, all colored yellow: the N and Q trains on the express tracks and the R and W trains on the local tracks during weekdays. The line is often referred to as the "N and R", since those were the only services on the line from 1988 to 2001, when the Manhattan Bridge's southern tracks were closed for rebuilding. The Broadway Line was built to give the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company access to Midtown Manhattan.
Community boards of Manhattan are New York City community boards in the borough of Manhattan, which are the appointed advisory groups of the community districts that advise on land use and zoning, participate in the city budget process, and address service delivery in their district.
47th Street is an east–west running street between First Avenue and the West Side Highway in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Traffic runs one way along the street, from east to west, starting at the headquarters of the United Nations. The street features the Diamond District in a single block and also courses through Times Square.
The M5 and M55 constitute a public transit corridor in Manhattan, New York City, United States, running along the Fifth / Sixth Avenues / Riverside Drive Line as well as the southern portion of the Broadway Line after the discontinuation of the M6. The routes primarily run along Broadway, Fifth and Sixth Avenues, and Riverside Drive from South Ferry, Lower Manhattan to Washington Heights. The M5 covers the northern portion of the route north of 31st Street, while the M55 operates along the southern portion of the route south of 44th Street. The two routes overlap in Midtown Manhattan. The portion along Broadway south of East 8th Street was originally a streetcar line.
The M1, M2, M3, and M4 are four local bus routes that operate the Fifth and Madison Avenues Lines – along one-way pair of Madison and Fifth Avenues in the Manhattan borough of New York City. Though the routes also run along other major avenues, the majority of their route is along Madison and Fifth Avenues between Greenwich Village and Harlem.
Cooper Square is a junction of streets in Lower Manhattan, New York City located at the confluence of the neighborhoods of Bowery to the south, NoHo to the west and southwest, Greenwich Village to the west and northwest, the East Village to the north and east, and the Lower East Side to the southeast.
Dyckman Street is a street in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It is commonly considered to be a crosstown street because it runs from the Hudson River to the Harlem River and intersects Broadway. However, in its true geographical orientation, Dyckman Street runs roughly from north-northwest to south-southeast, and the majority of the street that lies southeast of Broadway runs closer to a north-south direction than east-west.
Division Street is a one-way street in the Two Bridges district of Lower Manhattan. It runs in a northeasterly direction with westbound traffic and passes beneath the Manhattan Bridge. It begins at the intersection of Canal Street and Ludlow Street and runs westward to Bowery. It is mostly residential.
14th Street is a major crosstown street in the New York City borough of Manhattan. Presently primarily a shopping street, in the earlier history of New York City 14th Street was an upscale location, but it lost its glamor and status as the city grew northward.
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