After months of construction work, they’ve finally reopened Washington Square Park, which happens to be a few steps from where I live. There had been much trepidation on the part of the community. Would they ruin a good thing? Would the go all corporate on us? Would they convert our belovedly rag-tag “people’s park” into something official and off-putting?
I’m happy to say the City has managed to make the park lovelier and more elegant, without making it at all off-putting. It’s a bit like seeing somebody you know after they’ve gotten a makeover. It’s still them – same goofy jokes, same oddball interests, only sort of glammed up and presentable.
Folks still gather in Washington Square Park to play guitar, hang out together, read their books and just enjoy the day. There are even picnic tables now – a very nice touch. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the weather has been outrageously lovely. We’ve been having the kind of weather that is so perfect, one half suspects that t’s all a trick of evil aliens to lull our citizenry into a collective calm, while they prepare to beam our beloved city to some far off slave planet.
Ok, maybe I’m the only one who suspects that.
Anyway. Watching folks sit around looking at the gushing fountain, or sitting on the newly replanted lawn under the trees, I am impressed and delighted by how immediately entitled everybody feels. The moment the park reopened, the community moved in en masse, rediscovering everything from the dog run to the children’s playground. Everyone has been enjoying our newly polished treasure to the fullest, knowing just how to get the most out of it.
Looking over this delightful scene, I realize that Washington Square Park is Greenwich Village’s answer to the ocean shore. The feeling here is rather like an afternoon at the beach, communing with the surf and sand. Except that it’s just a few short steps away from where people work or live.
When I walk through our little park now, I feel a new-found appreciation for the ability of people to simply kick back and enjoy a lovely day at the beach – even if that beach is a diminutive park in the heart of a great metropolis. This capacity for enjoying a day is certainly one of humanity’s more attractive qualities.