Union Square Park is definitely not a high-end park dominated by well-dressed business people and nannies pushing strollers. Instead, it is a lively and popular hangout for a rather diverse crowd of people.
On any given day, the park is likely to have an eclectic mix of musical performers, skateboarders, college kids, hipsters, and religious zealots, as well as businessmen and nannies. It is hard to beat for people watching.
The park is centrally located with Greenwich Village to the south and the Flatiron District to the north. New York University and the New School are also nearby.
The bustling area has numerous stores, coffee shops, restaurants, theatres, and hotels.
The park is generally crowded, if not downright crammed with people. The most popular place for people to congregate is at the large plaza on the south end. There are gatherings of people at almost any hour of the day or night here. People sit on the steps and railings or stand in groups.
A statue of George Washington on a horse seems to oversee the plazas activities. The park also has statues of Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, and Marquis de Lafayette.
The park has wide tree-covered walkways lined with benches which, although plentiful in number, are at times completely full. Sunbathing and lounging on the grass are also popular activities when the lawns are open.
If you're looking to bring a picnic lunch or a snack to the park, there is a Whole Foods store right across the street from the south end of the park. There are also plenty of cafes and casual eateries all around the perimeter.
There is a playground at the newly renovated north end of Union Square Park complete with a giant sandbox. A dog run is located on the west side.
Union Square has long been a popular spot for political activists and demonstrators. The first Labor Day parade took place in Union Square on September 5, 1882. This marked the beginning of an effort to set aside one day each year to recognize American laborers.
Legislation was signed to make Labor Day a national holiday 12 years later. It is because of this event that the park has been named a National Historic Landmark.
Even today it is not unusual to see protests spurred on by current events in the world.
The Union Square Greenmarket is an open air farmers market with fresh regional foods and plants. It is held four days a week.
You can find artists selling their paintings and other crafts nearly every day.
If youre visiting for the winter holidays, dont miss the Holiday Market at Union Square. These crowded little shops are open between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and are a great place to find interesting and handmade gifts.
Union Square Park is located between Broadway and Park Avenue South and between 14th and 17th Streets.
To get there by subway, take the 4, 5, 6, L, N, R, Q, or W train to 14th Street-Union Square.