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.

Comment (1)

  1. Nilanjana Bose

    I had no idea about the Gandhi statue. The tree photos are lovely. Here from the A-Z. All the best for the rest of the challenge.


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