Grove Court in Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village is one of New York City’s most beloved neighborhoods, renown for its Bohemian history and its stately charm today. With its winding streets and hidden alleys, you can still find many secrets despite how expensive and chic the neighborhood has become.

15. Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village Used to Be a Cemetery

Burial-Vault-Washington-Square-Park-Chryalis-Archaeology-NYC-3Photo by Chrysalis Architecture

Before it was an unofficial hangout for NYU Students, Washington Square Park was a cemetery beginning in the late 18th century. In 1797, the Common Council acquired the land and used it as a potter’s field and place for public executions. There were a number of church cemeteries on the land, with the largest belonging to The Scottish Presbyterian Church. There are believed to be over 20,000 people still buried underneath the park, and a purported 125,000 people buried in the land’s history. In 2015, additional vaults with human remains and vaults were discovered, likely connected to the Cedar Street Presbyterian Church.

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2 thoughts on “The Top 15 Secrets of Greenwich Village in NYC

  1. I remember the Women’s House of Detention, from growing up in the Village…the women inside would yell down to their pals on the street, often in colorful metaphors, which shocked parents with little kids.

    The townhouse that blew up in 1971 was on the next block down from my grade school, PS 41. On the day that happened, we were sitting in second grade, doing a lesson, when we heard a “boom” that shook the building. Smoke came slowly down 11th Street, darkening it, and soon we heard zillions of sirens racing to the scene of the crime. When my mother picked me up, the whole area was cordoned off by cops.

    A few days later, a police detective came into our class, dressed in a trenchcoat, wearing a Gene Hackman porkpie hat, which he removed, to ask us if we had seen a naked woman running down 11th Street after the blast. She was sought in connection with the incident. Us being wise-ass second-graders growing up in the Village, we had a lot of answers. Mrs. Blume was shocked by our response.

    The detective thanked us for our time and stumped out of the class, muttering about “freaking smart-ass kids.”

    The good old days.

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