Washington Square Arch
Photo by Budgeron Bach

A ‘White’ arch in a square

1 month ago
1 min read

As I strolled through Washington Square Park one fine day, I found myself inexplicably drawn to a towering behemoth, a monolith that seemed to shout, “Hey you, come closer!” Lost in its gravitational pull, I couldn’t resist snapping photo after photo of this mammoth slab of rock masquerading as an arch, boldly facing off with Fifth Avenue.

Photo by Laura Tancredi

Every time I lounged by the fountain in Washington Square Park, gazing at the arch, I couldn’t help but shiver with excitement. It reminded me of the Arch of the Centuries at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines, where unsuspecting wanderers are lured into the heart of the campus.

Little did I know, there was more to this arch than met the eye. Turns out, it was New York’s grand homage to George Washington, a collaborative masterpiece crafted by the city’s esteemed architects and artisans. The marble? Quarried all the way from Tuckahoe village in Westchester county, New York, the very same stuff used to resurrect federal buildings reduced to ashes during the War of 1812. Talk about resilience! This Tuckahoe marble also found its way into constructing the iconic Washington Monument and the General Post Office in Washington, D.C. It’s like the Forrest Gump of marble, popping up everywhere in history.

The principals of McKim, Mead & White: William Rutherford Mead, Charles Follen McKim, and Stanford White

Digging deeper into the square’s past, I stumbled upon some scandalous tidbits about the arch’s designer, Stanford White. The stories were so juicy, they had me hooked like a cheap novel. It was like something straight out of a thriller, but alas, I’ll save those salacious details for another day. Don’t worry, I’ll be delving into them soon enough.

Now, getting to this popular white arch in an equally popular square was an adventure in itself. I’d hop on the E train from Port Authority, ride it all the way to West Fourth Street-Washington Square station, and then saunter a few blocks. But not before making a pit stop at Marie Blanchere, the local boulangerie, for a dose of liquid sanity in the form of dark roast coffee and a sinful cinnamon roll. Only then was I properly fueled to plop down by the fountain or nestle under the shady canopy of trees, playing the age-old game of people-watching. Ah, the simple joys of New York City life!

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