The Park’s Living Monument

September 24 2020

If you’ve ever strolled through Washington Square Park on a sunny morning, you’ve probably seen “that tanning guy.” He’s pretty hard to miss, with his shirt off, silver mustache glinting in the light, and sun-reflector in hand. You marvel at the evenness of his tan laughing at the near-absurdity of the scene; a man who would be at home on a beach in the Maldives, smack in the middle of one of the busiest Parks Manhattan. But you probably don’t know his name. 

Monty, on the lawn by the Park House last season
Monty, on the lawn by the Park House last season

Meet Monty.

Like the birds and the monuments, Monty is a permanent fixture in the Park. “I’ve been coming to Washington Square Park for 50 years. I’d come in the winter when I couldn’t go to the beach. I’m here as long as the sun is out, it’s close to my apartment on Thompson street,” Monty says, as he reclines in his lawn chair. For a year he’d taken taken up residence on the lawn closest to the Park House while his usual spot on the NW lawn was under restoration, but since the Park’s largest lawn re-opened in July 2020, Monty’s back to his usual spot.

Over those 50 years Monty has borne witness to a lot of changes in the Park. Two renovations have altered the physical landscape, different groups of people traipse around the pathways, but apart from the increase in green space (a big “plus” in Monty’s book) he doesn’t think the Park has really changed.

“Back in the older times the musicians used to be here, probably Bob Dylan, and they’d play. It was a little different then. But the Park has always had a tradition of music, people come from all over to play here. I like it quieter. It’s sometimes quiet now. But whatever is going on, every time I’ve been sitting here it’s always this beautiful thing.” 

Now, after a lifetime of working in Advertising (the only thing Monty ever really wanted to do), the Park is Monty’s retirement plan. He’ll be out here, on one of the sprawling lawns he loves so much, soaking up the rays long after most of us hunker down for the winter.

And his advice for the younger generation? “Think young. You’re only as old as you feel.”