New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Shirley Hayes and the Preservation of Washington Square Park
Established as a public park in 1827, Washington Square Park is a historic open space and the home of many monuments including the marble Washington Arch, a statue of Italian nationalist leader Giuseppe Garibaldi, and an authentic World War I flagpole. Mrs. Hayes and many others believed the plan to run a new major artery through the park would compromise the historic character, of the Village and deny thousands of local residents and visitors the only large green space in their
As neighborhood support for Mrs. Hayes’s campaign grew, a number of alternate plans were proposed. In 1955, Manhattan Borough President Hulan E. Jack unveiled a plan to build a depressed roadway through the park, while community leaders including Anthony Dapilito tried to negotiate with the city, suggesting alternatives including a tunnel beneath the park. Raymond S. Rubinow, Chairman of the Joint Emergency Committee to Close Washington Square Park to Traffic, formulated a “turn-around” compromise that would allow only Fifth Avenue Coach
Mrs. Hayes and her community allies rejected these proposals, saying that only one alternative would “best serve the needs of children and adults of the family community.” Mrs. Hayes proposed that Washington Square Park be forever closed to all motor vehicles. Her plan, calling for one and three-fourths acres of existing roadways be transferred to parkland and a paved area to be used for emergency use only, received widespread support from community members, including then Congressman John V. Lindsay (Mayor 1966-1973) and Charles McGuiness of the Village Independent Democrats. She believed the unification of the park would create a better venue for cultural and recreational activities such as the Shakespeare Festival, outdoor concerts, and art exhibits.
In 1958, a public hearing was held to discuss a roadway through the park. Bus loads of supporters – including Eleanor Roosevelt – a resident of 20 Washington Square Park West – crowded into City Hall to support Mrs. Hayes. With Assemblyman William F. Passannante, Manhattan Borough President Hulan E. Jack, and other community leaders in attendance, a “ribbon-tying” ceremony was held on November 1, 1958, to celebrate the start of a trial period by Traffic Commissioner T.T. Wiley to close the park to all vehicles
City of New York Parks and Recreation
Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor
Adrian Benepe, Commissioner
Erected 2003 by City of New York Parks and Recreation.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & Politics • Parks & Recreational Areas • Roads & Vehicles • Women. In addition, it is included in the Eleanor Roosevelt series list.
Location. 40° 43.886′ N, 73° 59.833′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker is on Washington Square North near Fifth Avenue, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Washington Square Park, New York NY 10012, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within Washington Square Park (here, next to this marker); Washington Arch (a few steps from this marker); Washington Square WWI Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Bella Abzug (within shouting distance of this marker); Edward I. Koch (within shouting distance of this marker); Alexander Lyman Holley (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); NYU 9/11 Memorial (about 300 feet away); No. 22 Washington Square North (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
Also see . . .
1. The 1950s plan for a Washington Square Highway. Ephemeral New York entry (Submitted on September 5, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
2. Shirley Hayes. New York Times obituary (Submitted on September 5, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 24, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 5, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 87 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on September 5, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. 7. submitted on September 7, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.