Following a $16 million renovation which took over six years to complete, Washington Square Park is a pleasant spot to sit on a bench with a paper and maybe a spot of lunch, listen to music, and enjoy the ebb and flow of Villagers, bohemians, tourists, students and academics from surrounding NYU buildings, workers on breaks, and local residents with their dogs.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be there when the fragrant food cart of Sri Lankan-born Thiru Kumar is parked on the south edge of the park at Sullivan Street (Mon–Fri 11am–4pm, but times can vary depending on the weather). His mild or spicy dosas are praised by foodies across the city.
The park has been a draw for musicians since World War II, when folkies would gather near the fountain on weekend afternoons. Buddy Holly, Woodie Guthrie, and Bob Dylan have all jammed here over the years, and the tradition continues. Classical concerts are held in the northeast corner of the park in July, and Christmas caroling takes place around the arch in December.
In the southeast corner of the park, regular chess players do battle, while ‘chess hustlers’ take on passersby in an attempt to make a few bucks. On Sundays, champions from the National Scrabble Club gather here to compete.