5th Ave. & Washington Sq. N.
History - written by Chris Buchner (used with permission)
The park wasn't always what it is today. In the 1700s, it was used as a cemetery for victims of Yellow Fever while the northern end was a German cemetery. After the epidemic, it became a parade ground and was used for public hangings. By the 1800s, however, the area that would become Greenwich Village became a desirable residential area for high-class people looking to escape the congestion caused in downtown New York by an influx of immigrants. This resulted in the construction of the park in 1826, as well as the red-bricked buildings north of the park from 1829-1833. These buildings collectively have become known as The Row; deemed landmarks by the city and now serving as administrative offices for nearby New York University.
To celebrate the centennial of George Washington's inauguration as president, Stanford White was commissioned to build a wooden arch for the park. The arch was so successful and loved that a marble one was commissioned. In 1895, the final version of the 77-foot Washington Arch was erected. The sculptures of Washington as a general and president were added in 1916 and 1918 to the arch.
In the 60s, the park became a popular beatnik hangout, frequented by the likes of Bob Dylan, Alan Ginsberg and Jack Keruoac. However, vagrants and derelicts soon took over the park by the mid-60s, making it an unfavorable place for other citizens.
In 1964, plans to renovate and revitalize the park caused a major dispute between the residents and the Park Commissioner. Noted residents like Eleanor Roosevelt and Jane Jacobs were integral parts of the dispute. They said the park needed only minor reservations, and that all efforts should be made to preserve the natural charm it has established over the years. Most importantly, the park should be a self-contained entity, closing off the automobile traffic, which at that time was allowed to drive through the Arch.
After a lot of compromise, everyone was happy with the park's new look. The park gained a new sense of popularity until the mid-1980s when the economic decline of the city led to an increase in drug dealing within its confines. It wasn't until the Guilliani administration that the park was finally cleaned up by the police and maintained by an active local community.
The Freshman (1990)
Upon arriving in new York City, Clark Kellogg (Matthew Broderick) has his belongings stolen by Victor Ray (Bruno Kirby). When Clark sees Victor again, he gives chase through Washington Square Park.
BUY - Blu-ray (reviewed here), Indiv. DVD, 4-Film with Wholly Moses/Vice Versa/A Fine Mess.
The movie stars Will Smith as Alex "Hitch" Hitchens, a romance consultant who helps hapless men woo the ladies of their dreams. Complications ensure when he falls for gossip columnist Sarah Melas (Eva Mendes), who unbeknownst to both of them, is doing an expose on the mythical "date doctor" as she tries to figure out how the clumsy Albert (Kevin James) is dating the wealthy and famous Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta).
The movie opens with a montage showing Hitch working with several of his clients. One of them is Pete (Matt Malloy), who secretly meets with Hitch at the Washington Square Park arch. It's seen from the same direction as in Ghostbusters II, only it's such an extreme close-up that it could be easily missed.
Be sure to check out my Hitch Filming Locations & Reference Review. Also, the movie has been released on Blu-ray, Widescreen DVD (with more bonus features), and a two-disc Blu-ray Double Feature with The Holiday (starring Cameron Diaz and the Greystone Mansion).
Paul Feig's ill-fated parody remake features a few locations from the original movies. While enroute to the Stonebrook Theatre, the team passes by several familiar spots. It is believed that this unused shot of the car turning by Washington Square Park, which appeared in the U.S. Trailer #1, would have been from that scene.
Motherless Brooklyn (2019)
After attending a protest rally under the arch headlined by speaker Gabby Horowitz (Cherry Jones), Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) meets up with Paul Randolph (Willem Dafoe) on the adjoining pathway. Since the movie is set in the 1950s, the photography is kept tight so as to not reveal any modern structures.