Union Square

Vintage Images


Union Square, in Manhattan, is a historic park and the neighborhood that surrounds it. It derives its name from the main streets and avenues that unite here. The present Union Square Park is bounded by East 14th Street on the south, East 17th Street on the north, and Union Square West and Union Square East to the west and east respectively. East 17th Street links together Broadway and Park Avenue South, while Union Square East connects Park Avenue South to Fourth Avenue and the continuation of Broadway on the park's south side.

The "Union Place" was projected under the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, originally extended from 1oth Street to 17th Street. The area was then a farmland and potter field called "the Forks", junction of the old Bloomingdale Road and the Bowery (later Broadway and 4th Avenue). In 1832, the "Union Place" was established in its present size. It was made into a public park in 1839 and opened as such on July 19. The fountain was built in the center of the park in 1842. By the 1850s, Union Square was completely surrounded by buildings and was a popular place for many events.

The Park was redesigned in 1872 by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. In the 19th century, the area also includes monuments to George Washington (1856), Marquis de Lafayette (1873), Abraham Lincoln (1870).

The 5-sory Everett House, on the corner of 4th Avenue (now Park Avenue South) opened in 1853. The site is now occupied by the 16-story Everett Building, completed in 1908.

On October 25, 1881 the James Fountain was dedicated. It is an ornamental drinking fountain with a bronze statuary sculpted by Karl Adolph Dondorff. It is located on the west side of the park.

In 1892, the 11-story Jackson Building was completed on the north side of the Square. It was destroyed by fire in 1930 then it was cut down to its present height. The Decker Building, at 33 Union Square West, was erected between 1892 and 1893 for the Decker Brothers, a piano manufacturer in New York City.

More: Union Square in the 19th century

The 16-story Bank of the Metropolis building at 31 Union Square West, northwest corner of East 16th Street, was built in 1902-1903 and was designated a NYC landmark in 1988.

In 1928-1929, the park was excavated for the subway, then it was renovated. The Tammany Hall Building, at 44 Union Square /100 East 17th Street, was built about the same time in neo-Georgian style and was formally dedicated on July 4, 1929.

On July 4, 1930, the Independence Flagstaff (Charles F. Murphy Memorial) was dedicated. It was designed by Anthony de Francisci to celebrate the the 150th anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Union Square Park is home for the Union Square Greenmarket, since 1976. The Gandhi Memorial was dedicated on October 2, 1986.


Union Square


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Union Square, 1897, looking north by C.F.Th. Kreh. Decker Building is the tallest on the left.


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People in Union Square, April 2010 (credit: Joe Buglewicz / NYC & Company).


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Union Square, north from Washington Monument. Souvenir Post Card Co., copyright 1905 by Irving Underhill.


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Copyright © Geographic Guide - Antique images of NYC. Historic Places.


Union Square

Vintage Images