Jackson Square: A new park took root in the ’30s

Today’s Jackson Square Park is one of the most lush in Greenwich Village, but 80 years ago it was barely more than an open playground.

Today’s Jackson Square Park is one of the most lush in Greenwich Village, but 80 years ago it was barely more than an open playground.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |  Eighty years ago, a bird’s eye view of Jackson Square Park from Eighth Ave. shows a very different scene than the leafy, well-appointed park of today.

A photo from Sept. 13, 1934 shows trees that were only saplings and no grand fountain. It seems that children may still have used it as a playground, though there were no swing sets or jungle gyms.

The only entrance to the park was on Greenwich Ave.

There were no crossing lights and were those trolley tracks in the middle of the street still working, or covered over and out of commission?

Above the no-longer-extant James Butler store — apparently a grocer’s — a billboard was hawking Camels, with a catchy slogan not readable due to the angle. The other businesses on the strip are also long gone, with the hip Art Bar now occupying the former barbershop space. 

As for the park, it’s slated for a major renovation soon. When she was in office, former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who represented the district that contains the park, allocated $800,000 for its rehab. 

Although a down-on-their-luck element used to hang out (in recent decades) along Jackson Square’s northern edge, police have “moved them along” by cracking down on public drinking there. Richard Nixon — no, not the former president, just another guy named Richard Nixon, with a beer habit — used to be a regular there, but has disappeared.

“Richard Nixon’s gone. No one knows what happened to him,” said Detective Jimmy Alberici, Sixth Precinct Community Affairs Officer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *