Washington Square, originally designated in 1682 as Southeast Square, is a 6.4acre open-space park in Center City Philadelphia's southeast quadrant and one of the five original planned squares laid out on the city grid by William Penn's surveyor, Thomas Holme. It is part of both the Washington Square West and Society Hill neighborhoods. In 2005, the National Park Service took over ownership and management of Washington Square, through an easement from the City of Philadelphia. It is now part of Independence National Historical Park.
During the 18th century, the Square was used to graze animals and for burials by the city's African American community and as a potter's field, much like the park of the same name in New York's Greenwich Village. During the Revolutionary War, the square was used as a burial ground for citizens and troops from the Colonial army.
After the Revolution, victims of the city's yellow fever epidemics were interred here, and the square was used for cattle markets and camp meetings. Improvement efforts began in 1815, as the neighborhoods around the square were developed and became fashionable. In 1825, the park was named Washington Square in tribute to George Washington and a monument to Washington was proposed. This monument was never built but served as the seed for the eventual tribute to soldiers of the Revolutionary War.
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Tours To Washington Square Park
Founding Fathers Tour of Philadelphia BOOK WITH VIATOR FROM $50
Duration: 2 hours
Classic Philadelphia City Bike Tour BOOK WITH VIATOR FROM $59
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
From History to Happy Hour Philadelphia Walking Tour BOOK WITH VIATOR FROM $99
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes
Washington Square Park Reviews
Enjoy the historic, relaxing mileu of Philly Old Town along the buildings where US history happened and started in the 18th century. A littke bit dirty and shabby despite the great imp. of the place. more »
This park is about 1 city block square and is beautiful; an oasis in the heart of the city. The park is about a block from Independence Hall and houses the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary Soldier. more »
The park in Washington Square is so beautiful! I sit in the park on the benches while I am waiting for my bus, and I also go there because it's so peaceful and lively! People are walking their pets, you can hear the birds singing, and I get so happy when I go there to feed the squirrels! There is a Nuts To You store located on Walnut Street which is across the street from the park! So I buys nuts, popcorn and other delights and go right across the street to Washington Square Park! I love it!
"Freedom is a light for which many have died in darkness." So reads the inscription on the central monument and tomb dedicated to unnamed soldiers, with a burning flame in front of it and flags lined on either side. This is the last of Philadelphia's five squares that we have visited (the other four are Rittenhouse square, Logan square, Franklin square, and City Hall). It's solemn peacefulness is a welcome addition to the character of Philadelphia.
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