At 5:15 on a Tuesday afternoon, Washington Square Park buzzes with activity. Although the peak of the day has passed, the sun shines brightly with its rays stretching across the clear, blue sky. The sound of birds chirping echoes throughout the meandering paths as people desperately try to enjoy the few remaining days of summer.
Bushy-tailed squirrels scurry along the grass, while some chase each other along tree branches. Dogs of all shapes and sizes stroll through the park on leashes, barking as fellow canines walk by.
Curved, dark benches line this Greenwich Village landmark. Some people find relief under the shaded benches, while others happily sunbathe on the benches that are exposed to the scorching sun. Additional benches are occupied by students wearing NYU apparel, most tapping away at Mac laptops and a few using an old-fashioned notebook.
Runners and cyclists speed through the park, equipped with headphones that possibly drown out the surrounding noise. Tourists wander around, with large cameras draped along their necks and maps in hand. One can also detect the drone of a helicopter above as it surveys the overpopulated city.
At a playground within the park, children shout, laugh, and cry. Rusty swings move back and forth, propelling supervised kids through the air. Younger children are guided through the park in strollers, driven by their attentive mothers or nannies.
On a spacious grass lawn, three young men stand facing each other and bump a dirty, white volleyball. A few feet away, two young girls toss a red frisbee while a golden retriever sits nearby with its owner, resisting the urge to interrupt the game. A boy rests against a tree stump, strumming a guitar while another sketches a picture of his surroundings. At a nearby bench, two other men carefully take guitars out of their leather-bound encasements and discuss a song they’ve been working on.
At the center of the park lies a round fountain, whose rushing water provides an odd sense of peace amidst an otherwise crowded space. Directly across from the centerpiece is a large, marble arch etched with intricate details. The arch proves to be an admired fixture, as people stop to take photos that will probably end up on a social media platform.
Unlike typical days, a television crew occupies a region of the park. Tourists slow down to determine the cause of the commotion, while indifferent New Yorkers walk right by without a second look. Periodically, multiple voices shout the words “rolling” and “speed” before the production team springs into action. A group of musicians stand nearby, carrying cellos, basses, and other orchestral instruments. Clad in all-black, formal attire, one can imagine how much these musicians despise the sun at that particular moment.
Unlit lantern posts line the small paths, as people with various foreign accents walk at a leisurely pace. Once the sun sets, the lanterns illuminate the park and a new wave of people will pass through. Nestled in a city that is home to over eight million people, Washington Square Park holds the stories of the countless visitors who stumble upon it on any given day.