Tag Archives: Union Square Park

U is for Union

Located at E 14 Street to E 17 Street in Manhattan, New York
Park Website:  https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/union-square-park

Union Square Park

Union Square Park is a bustling city park, a center of activities and events and home to the largest green market in New York City. 

The park gets its name from its location… at the union or intersection of two major roads, Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) and Bowery Road (now Fourth Avenue). The park, named Union Place initially, was designed on the lines of the fashionable residential squares of London and opened to the public on July 19, 1839.

As New York City’s downtown expanded northward, Union Square became an important commercial and residential center, with houses, hotels, stores, banks, offices, manufacturing establishments, and a variety of cultural facilities coming up around it. One of my personal favorites in the area is the ’18 miles of books’ at the Strand Book Store!

The grounds of Union Square have frequently served as a choice location for public meetings, including parades, labor protests, political rallies. By the early 1880s, Union Square was a hotspot for the political life of the city. On September 5, 1882, New York City’s Union Square was the location of the first recorded Labor Day parade in America. 

The parade represented broad swaths of New York and New Jersey labor organizations and ensured that all trades had proper representation at the event, from bricklayers to jewelers to cigar makers. 

With the overwhelming turnout and the deep significance of the parade, enthusiasm for the establishment of a Labor Day holiday increased. In 1884, the first resolutions were passed to solidify Labor Day as a state-wide holiday. The federal Labor Day holiday was signed into law by President Grover Cleveland in 1894.

In 1997 the United States Department of the Interior designated Union Square Park as a National Historic Landmark because of its significance in American labor history. 

The park has undergone numerous redesignings and improvements over the years. In 1872 the park was redesigned by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. In the 1920 and 30s, improvements took place including dedication of the Independence Flagstaff at the center of the park. 

The flagstaff, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, has intricate bas-reliefs and plaques that feature a procession of allegorical figures representing democracy and tyranny, the text of the Declaration of Independence, and emblems from the original 13 colonies. 

There are several other monuments in the park too, including an equestrian statue of George Washington, a bronze larger than life statue of Abraham Lincoln and a statue of the leader of Indian independence struggle Mohandas Gandhi on a traffic island on the southwest of the main park.

Take a look at the events happening in Union Square Park.

Union Square Park hosts New York City’s largest greenmarket where farmers sell what they grow, raise, catch, and bake locally. It is operated year-round by GrowNYC and is held four times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8 AM to 6 PM. The stalls are located on Union Square Park’s north and west plazas and sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, heritage meats and award-winning farmstead cheeses, artisan breads, jams, pickles, a profusion of cut flowers and plants, wine, ciders, maple syrup and more.

25 Apr 2023

Union Square Greenmarket – a cornucopia of delights

When my work group moved from our midtown office to the downtown office, one of the things I really missed was the once a week lunch time walk to the Union Square Greenmarket. Now that I am back at the midtown office (Yay!) and the weather is turning reasonably walkable, that is the first place I chose to walk to!
It is an amazing place, specially for a food-loving person like me. The open air market is held four times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8 AM to 6 PM – in a three-square-block area that is part of the Union Square Park, along Broadway at 14th street. Though it is a year round market, the tempo varies according to the season. Even now, when It is just picking up pace after a long long winter, the variety of stuff available is great. But just wait for a couple of weeks… man, the bounty of nature floods the place with such abundance!

A cloudy downcast day at Union Square Greenmarket

A cloudy downcast day at Union Square Greenmarket

The history of the Union Square Farmer’s Market is an impressive one. The Union Square Park has been in existence since 1839 when it was designated a public place and named Union Place as it was the site of the intersection or union of two major streets.

After the second world war, the park started to deteriorate and had fallen into disrepute by the 1970s, being frequented by drug dealers and similar characters. This kept the general public away from the park, as it was generally considered unsafe.
In 1976, a new initiative, the Greenmarket program, was set up in New York city, to promote small scale agriculture by providing a viable market to family farms for their produce, at the same time ensuring that the teeming millions of New York city got access to fresh, nutritious produce delivered directly to their localities.

The Greenmarket program – now called GrowNYC – selected Union Square as the location for its second market in the city, after the one at 59th Street and 2nd Avenue.

And the Union Square Greenmarket began functioning in the parking lot surrounding the park, with 12 farmers. It played an important role in revitalizing the neighbourhood by attracting consumers who valued the quality of the products.


Today the Union Square Greenmarket is an upscale market selling high-quality products, all fresh from within truckable distances. On an average, the market receives 250,000 customers per week. More than one thousand varieties of fruits and vegetables can be found during the produce season. Even on a cloudy day recently, with the rain threatening to start falling any minute, there was still a bustling crowd, milling around the many stalls. In addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables, there are stalls selling varieties of plants, herbs and cut flowers.


Tulip plants…




Cut flowers…

A wide variety of baked goods, cheeses, pickles, maple products…


The whole place is fragrant with the smell of herbs and fresh bread and cookies, it is a pleasure just walking around the place.



The number of farms that participate in the Greenmarket has grown to 140 at peak season. A recent addition to the market is the participation from fisheries.

New York is supposed to be a haven for pet dogs; you see the largest number of them here. And no market place can be complete without catering to them. In addition to various food items, here are a bunch of bones for them to chew on…


Once the weather gets a bit warmer all kinds of arts and crafts stalls will open up, giving the market the looks of a lovely fairground. Can’t wait…


24 Mar 2014