Regimental Parate, Washington Square, 1851

Otto Boetticher's 1851 painting of Washington Square Park as a military parade ground

Washington Square was a potters’ field from 1797 to 1823. The poor, indigent, and victims of the frequent yellow fever epidemics were laid to rest in the fields. In 1825, faced with overcrowding below ground and urban sprawl above, the Common Council closed Washington Square to further interments and rededicated the field as a military parade ground. Fashionable residents followed the militia to Washington Square. By 1833 handsome brick houses lined the north side of the grounds, and well-dressed spectators turned out to watch the Seventh Regiment go through its paces.

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