Washington Square Park: Idyllic Park, or Grazing Plots for Livestock?
BY AARON STELLA Philadelphia boasts of “Penn’s Five”, parklands that were plotted on the city’s grid by William Penn’s surveyor and architect, Thomas Holmes—one of which is Washington Square, located in the heart of Washington Square West. Effectively, it’s the area’s namesake. Washington Square was originally designated as Southeast Square, until 1825, when it was renamed as a tribute to Philadelphia’s very own George Washington. As neighborhoods around the square became more upscale, the city began to make improvements—beautification in particular—and that habit has remained the prevalent proclivity to this day. Walking through the Square, its most notable features lay in plain sight: the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Moon Tree (Sycamore seeds that were carried to the moon and back by Stuart Roosa on the Apollo XIV) as well as a beautiful stone fountain efflorescing on the central plaza. Sprawling grass-plots invite picnickers and pet-lovers to relax and romp, while tall trees provide shade in the hotter months. At Christmas time, the square is adorned in colored lights, and is filled with the strains of carolers. And throughout the year, the city offers haunted tours of the square and the surrounding neighborhoods. Needless to say, Washington Square is a magnet for residents of the area, whether they’re merely passing through or planning set awhile in the tranquil environings. Take a walk through Washington Square, and get to know Washington Square West a little better.