Presidents’ Day takes place in February, and for a Park named after the OG President, that’s a pretty big deal. So we’re celebrating by learning more about his compatriots whose names grace the streets surrounding the Park. Everyone wants to be surrounded by friends on their big day.
While the Village was still a pastoral suburb of the city during the Revolutionary War, reminders of that fight for independence are engrained even in our modern streets. The most obvious and spectacular reminder is the Arch itself. Erected between the years 1890 and 1892, the Tuckahoe marble Arch we know today was actually commissioned to replace a popular wooden arch erected to commemorate the centennial of Washington’s inauguration in 1889. Arch architect (say that three times fast) Stanford White modeled both structures on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Adored with two statues on its north face, the Arch gives two perspectives on the founding father: Washington as Commander-in-Chief, Accompanied by Fame and Valor by Hermon MacNeil and Washington as President, Accompanied by Wisdom and Justice by Alexander Stirling Calder.
If you head south of the park, six streets are a close reminder of Washington’s allies: MacDougal, Sullivan, Thompson, Wooster, Greene, and Mercer aren’t just street names, they’re the surnames of those who served as generals during the Revolutionary war. Alexander McDougall (yes, the spelling is different, his father spelled it as it reads on the street signs today) is the New Yorker of the bunch—a merchant who went on to succeed Benedict Arnold in command of the defenses of West Point. The other generals include William Thompson from Pennsylvania, David Wooster from Connecticut, Nathanael Greene from Rhode Island, John Sullivan from New Hampshire, and Hugh Mercer, a Scottish-born surgeon. Fun fact, Sullivan was with Washington during the Delaware crossing.
So the next time you take a stroll through the park or down MacDougal, Sullivan, Thompson, Wooster, Greene, or Mercer Streets, it’s kind of like you’re hanging out with Washington and his crew. Pretty cool.