Saturday, November 26, 2016

Photo of the Day: Sheridan Square Viewing Garden, NYC

A week ago, on my way to something else, I came across Sheridan Square—not just a triangle, but, as you can see from this photo I took, a sliver of a triangle, in Greenwich Village. The square was dedicated in 1896 in honor of the General Philip Sheridan, but well into the 20th century, its nexus at Barrow Street, West 4th Street, and Washington Place had made it a traffic safety island.

According to a 1996 oral history interview given by longtime Greenwich Village preservation activist Doris Diether, that location, outside a local Sloan’s supermarket, also made the triangle a magnet for illegally parked cars, delivery trucks, and motorcycles. The latter bore visitors to and from a local drug hangout, The Haven, nicknamed a “juice bar.” All in all, hardly the type of spot to honor one of the great Civil War heroes.

The establishment of a viewing garden in 1982 changed all that. It was primarily the result of the vision of two women: community activist Vera Schneider, who spearheaded the formation of the nonprofit Sheridan Square Triangle Association, seeing it as a means of eliminating the burgeoning drug trade, and Pamela Berdan, who designed the garden. (Her Jefferson Market Garden is another Greenwich Village adornment.)

The time I walked past this spot—late autumn—can hardly be conducive to seeing this garden at its best. I’ll try to view it again in spring, when tulips, azaleas, rhododendrons and crabapples are in bloom, or summer, when other perennials and annuals enjoy their place in the sun.

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