Bridge Project 4: Introduction to Research: Myth and Neighborhood: A Sound Walk with Text

Idea 1: Mole People

Subway system.

  • “What had made Greenwich Village such an important seedbed for the growth and flowering of culture in New York City, the United States, and indeed the world?” Could it perhaps have been the fertilizing effects of the 20,000 or so human corpses that still lie beneath the park?
  • While estimates vary, it seems likely that over 20,000 people were buried in the land…. The bulk of the bodies were never disinterred, which means that they remain to this day under the grass and pavement of Washington Square.”
  • So, how did those bodies get there? In 1797, the quickly expanding New York City government purchased a portion of an old farm for $4,500 to create a potter’s field—a burial ground for the indigent, poor, criminals, and victims of epidemic. The potter’s field operated for almost thirty years and occupied what is now the eastern two-thirds of Washington Square Park. It also happened to be adjacent to several established church cemeteries, adding to the area’s body count. In Around Washington Square, Harris commented that this area was a “natural choice for such bleak facilities because it was a rural northern suburb of the city and already the site of cemeteries owned by downtown churches.”
  • Hundreds of people who could not afford to be buried privately were laid to rest in the field. Soon, the city sheriff erected a public gallows, near the current loc


Idea 2: Gallow

Washington Square Park

  • It was not even always a park. It was not until 1827 when Philip Hone (a war hero from the War of 1812) became Mayor of New York[1] that Washington Square Park became such.
  • He pushed for the development of the park in order to mimic London’s high-end residential neighborhood West End.
  • Attempt to lure wealthy individuals to live in the area
  • Named after President George Washington in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of his presidency (and the American Revolution).
  • Previous to this turn of events, the large public space was designated as a common cemetery where victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic were buried in 1797.
  • Bones and human artifacts are regularly discovered each time renovations occur at Washington Square Park, and even on occasion when ConEd needs to break ground for repairs.
  • Eventually the space was appropriated for public gallows.   This led the big English Elm tree near the northwest portion of the park to be dubbed “the hanging elm.”

Idea 3:

Artist Group

  • A group of artists in 1917 staged an insurrection.
  • They wanted to make greenwich village a sovereign state.
  • At night you can hear them reading their declaration of independence.

Possible Ideas

  • Having the recording be a night
  • Softly playing the Declaration in the background
  • Talk about the History of Greenwich Village

Leave a reply

Skip to toolbar