washington square park

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The Washington Square Arch, also known as the Washington Arch, is a triumphal arch situated at the north end of Washington Square Park in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. The arch was designed by American architect Stanford White to commemorate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as president of the United States in 1789. White was a partner in the architectural firm of McKim, Meade, and White, which was responsible for early-20th century Beaux-Arts architectural accomplishments such as Grand Central Terminal and the original Pennsylvania Station.

washington square park arch

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White designed his arch after local businessman and philanthropist William Rhinelander Stewart constructed a plaster and wood arch in the same location in 1889. Rhinelander’s arch was so popular that White was commissioned to erect a permanent arch. White’s arch was built out of white Tuckahoe marble (Westchester marble) and stands 77 feet high with an arch opening of 47 feet. The Washington Square Arch was modeled after a long history of triumphal arches, including the 1836 Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile in Paris and 1st-century Arch of Titus in Rome.

washington square arch nyc

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Images of war and peace are present throughout the arch, and the frieze contains a pattern of 13 large stars, 42 small stars, and a series of capital “W’s.” The inscription on the attic story, or very top of the arch, reads a quote by Washington: “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.”

The north sides of the arch’s piers each exhibit a statue of Washington – George Washington as Commander-In-Chief, Accompanied by Fame and Valor by Hermon A. MacNeil on the eastern pier, and George Washington as President, Accompanied by Wisdom and Justice by A. Stirling Calder on the western pier. The Arch was dedicated in 1895, and the two statues of Washington were supplemented in 1918.

Have you been to the Washington Square Arch?

Tucker is a junior at Fordham University studying Political Science and Art History. He enjoys food, historical nonfiction, and Netflix marathons.

1 COMMENT

  1. Loved it there. I actually visited Washington Square specifically to see the cage, where you can apparently see some really good amateur basketball games. We walked around the square for a while and couldn’t find it anywhere. When I got back home I looked it up on Google maps and found it hidden behind some trees and shrubs that we had walked past a few times. Disappointing but I’m sure I will be back to NYC someday.

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