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Monday, August 23, 2010

Jackson Square

Another misnamed triangle! But for some reason Jackson Square feels almost…square-like. Maybe because of its big round fountain (and planters)? And look—the sign is square! Self-referentiality, anyone?

Jackson Square has been in the news in the last couple of years mostly because of the adjacent condo development called One Jackson Square, whose design, size, and neighborhood-changing character got many residents and bloggers riled up. Now that One Jackson Square is fact, though, it's time to step back and appreciate the park itself.

Yes, you might see a few too many yuppies sitting here buried in their mobile phones and iThings, instead of appreciating their surroundings. This lady, though, seems to have an actual physical notebook of some kind in her lap!

And anyway, those surroundings are awfully nice. The spruced-up little park remains a neighborhood treasure, apparently free of the jackbooted thugs feared by some. Green and flowery and fountainous (that's right, I've coined another word), it has enough trees to muffle the sound of the surrounding streets a bit.

The newish fountain dates from the capital reconstruction project that was completed in 1990. But Greenwich Avenue, which forms the park's eastern border, is an ancient way, formerly an Indian trail, and Jackson Square is one of the oldest parks in the city, dating in some form or other to the time of the genesis of the Manhattan street grid circa 1811. Its exact origins are somewhat obscure, like those of Dante Park. There isn't even an official record of the square's having been named for Andrew Jackson, though Old Hickory's popularity with Tammany Hall suggests that it probably was.

Whatever its roots, Jackson Square is a colorful but relaxing spot to set a spell and appreciate the fact that you're in the greatest city in the world.

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