Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Which Square?

a hasty helpful one, as I'm running around doing stuff madly right now --

Hey Neil-

A little confusion on the blog this morning, I think. The helpful and groovy soul who sent in information on Washington Square Park actually linked us to an article on Washington Square in Philadelphia, whereas the Sandman story in question was set in New York.

The interesting part of this, though, is that Washington Square Park in New York was once a potter's field, too. According to the accounts I've read, there may be anywhere from 15,000 to 25,000 people, many of them slaves and yellow fever victims, buried under the park. It's claimed that when the park was turned into a parade ground, practicing troops often found their cannons' wheels caught in the ruts of graves that had collapsed in on themselves under the weight above them.

The park was also used as a hanging ground. It's said that if you walk up to the northwest corner of the park, you can still see the "Hangman's Elm," the tree the British hung people from before and during the Revolutionary War. The "hanging branch," however, was cut down by the Parks Department several years ago. (If you've noted all the disclaimers I've used, it's important to remember that a lot of this has become wrapped up in folklore over the years. Still, while the details may now be murky, the basic facts remain true.)

More information on Washington Square Park in New York City can be found at


this link as well to


Nick Monteleone
Resident New York City History Geek

Thanks, Nick...

And this is interesting, although I can't figure out why Life of Pi is on there twice....