PARADISO’S Parks of GREENWICH Village
Washington Market Park – 199 Chambers Street
By Anthony Paradiso
For this month’s column I visited Washington Market Park on a sunny day in early October. Located at 199 Chambers Street in the Tribeca neighborhood, it sits right next to the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) campus. If you’re coming from the Village, it’s ten minutes by car or about 20 minutes on foot. The main entrance to the park is at the corner of Greenwich and Duane streets. There is a big sign in front of the entrance that says dogs are not permitted inside the park.
I entered and walked down a winding path which takes you to a fork in the road. Turning right, I found the “The Butterfly Garden.” According to washingtonmarketpark.org, a NYC parks department gardener named Richie Haugland “developed the master plan…” for the garden in the Fall of 2016 and it was planted in the Spring of 2017.
The Butterfly Garden is more than a pretty sight, but is also “a welcoming stop for thousands of butterflies…” and “an educational opportunity for children and adults alike to learn about butterflies, their life cycles and the plants with which they interact.” Washington Market Park also has a community garden so members of the community can apply to cultivate a plot inside.
Continuing along the walking path, I ran into a pretty gazebo, which is placed on a raised area of stone tiles. Keep walking and on your left you will see seven picnic tables. Each table has artwork painted on it. The murals are part of a series of seven that depict a character named “Frank Ape.” They were painted in May of 2023 by “contemporary New York artist, Brandon Sines.”
One shows Frank Ape hanging out with some butterflies while another shows Frank wearing a basketball jersey and headband and holding a basketball against his hip. I loved the one where Frank shows his appreciation for ‘the Big Apple.’
Why did the murals show Frank playing tennis and basketball? Because you can play both inside Washington Market Park! In addition to one lit, hard-court tennis surface, the park also features a full-sized basketball court. Both were resurfaced this past summer and are tucked away on the southwest side of the park, near West Street. Those looking to play tennis will need to get a permit from the NYC Parks Department, however, the basketball courts can be enjoyed for free from 8:00 am until dusk.
Washington Market Park has a lot to offer, but all of its features require care, support and maintenance. Luckily, a non-profit neighborhood organization called Friends of Washington Market Park does just that.
Pam Frederick is currently a member and she shed some light on how the organization produces these free events.
“We have a team of two people that organizes each event, and then other board members chip in to decorate in advance and help run the event,” Frederick said. “Most of us have been on the board for years now, and have our roles set.”
In October, Friends of Washington Market Park produced two events on back-to-back days, which included a “Pumpkin Carving Contest” on October 28 and their annual “Halloween Parade” on October 29.
“Pumpkin carving is smaller but still well attended. The Halloween parade is huge — a couple thousand probably show. All of our events are permitted by the Parks Department and, in the case of the Halloween parade, through the NYPD, since the precinct closes Greenwich Street for us for the time of the parade,” said Frederick.
The next free event on the Friends of Washington Market Park schedule is the “Christmas Party,” that will take place on Saturday, December 2 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. This is how washingtonmarket.org describes this event:
“Santa is the guest of honor at our annual Christmas Party. Riding to the park in style – sometimes by pedicab, peddled by an oversized elf – Santa will be accepting letters and Christmas wish lists from believers small and tall!”
All in all, I was very happy that I got to visit Washington Market Park. It’s a lot nicer than some of the parks I’ve covered in past issues of The Village View because of the variety of activities that can be enjoyed there as well as its cleanliness. If you just want to relax you can go sit in the shade inside the gazebo. Just make sure to respect the rules of the park and don’t bring a dog inside or else you will be reprimanded by the staff. Dog owners can go to Tribeca Dog-Run.