Volume 20, Number 43 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 20 - 26, 2010
Photo by Jefferson Siegel
An overhead shot of Washington Square Park getting good use on a recent brisk day.
No more park graduations
N.Y.U. conspiracy theorists and watchdogs always suspected the Washington Square Park renovation was being done, in part, to make the park more user friendly for the university’s annual commencement ceremony. But, in fact, just the opposite has occurred: The renovation has driven N.Y.U.’s graduation out of the park — permanently.
According to the Washington Square News, New York University’s undergraduate newspaper, N.Y.U. will no longer hold university-wide commencement ceremonies in Washington Square — not for the Class of ’11, not ever.
Although the park’s renovation is due to be completed sometime next year, the refurbished greensward will have less space to accommodate the graduation. Since the park renovations began in 2007, the university has been holding its commencements in Yankee Stadium.
According to John Beckman, N.Y.U. spokesperson, the decision not to return to the park was based on space constraints caused by the renovation, which decreased the number of seats the university could have in Washington Square from about 19,000 to 14,000. According to W.S.N., the university also considered holding the ceremony in two other premier New York City public parks — Central Park and Prospect Park — as well as Madison Square Garden.
Moving the commencement to the “House That George Built” means students can each invite four guests. In the renovated Washington Square, they’d have only been able to invite one guest each, while before the park renovation, they traditionally could invite two guests.
However, N.Y.U. isn’t through with the park entirely.
“In the future, we do expect to talk with the Parks Department and the community board about other possible N.Y.U. events in the park, maybe something in the beginning of the year, or maybe individual school graduation ceremonies,” Beckman told W.S.N.
The spokesperson added of the university’s announcement: “One silver lining: It should finally put to rest the longstanding, alligator-in-the-sewers-type urban myth that the design of the park renovation was somehow controlled by N.Y.U.”