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Union Square The Highlights
Union Square is an important and historic intersection and surrounding neighborhood located where Broadway and the former Bowery Road – now Fourth Avenue – came together in the early 19th century; its name denotes that "here was the union of the two principal thoroughfares of the island" rather than celebrating either the Federal union of the United States or labor unions. Opened in 1839 and redesigned in 1872 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux (of Central and Prospect Parks fame) to accommodate mass congregations of New Yorkers, Union Square Park has served as home base for countless community events and festivals-from the first Labor Day parade in 1882 to workers' rallies in the 1930s to the first Earth Day in 1970 to the current, wildly popular Greenmarket. This former burial ground has seamlessly transitioned from a town square to a bustling City park and the current Union Square Park is bounded by 14th Street on the south, Union Square West on the west side, 17th Street on the north, and on the east Union Square East, which links together Broadway and Park Avenue South to Fourth Avenue and the continuation of Broadway. Many buildings of The New School are near the Square, as are several dormitories of New York University. Union Square is noted for its impressive equestrian statue of U.S. President George Washington, modeled by Henry Kirke Brown and unveiled in 1856, the first public sculpture erected in New York City since the equestrian statue of George III in 1770, and the first American equestrian sculpture cast in bronze; the historic moment depicted is Evacuation Day, November 25, 1783, when the British left the city and General Washington triumphantly led his troops back into the city.
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