On This Day in 1837 — Christopher Park Is Born!
On this day in 1837, the City condemned a parcel of land between Christopher, Grove, and West 4th Streets, which eventually became Christopher Park.
Between 1789 and 1829, Christopher Street was subdivided into lots and blocks that were laid out along its length. However, these blocks were laid out in irregular configurations as Greenwich Village did not conform to a standard grid plan, and many oddly shaped blocks were created. In the early 1820’s, the area saw an increase in population (most likely a result of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1822) and Christopher Street became crowded with newcomers. This eventually led to a fire in 1835 and the outcry of the residents to have that parcel of land turned into much needed open space. After two years, the City acceded to the resident’s petitioning and the land was condemned on April 5, 1837, paving the way for it to become a neighborhood park.
Christopher Park today is vibrant and one of the best maintained parks in the City. In 1983, Friends of Christopher Park, a community volunteer group dedicated to maintaining and beautifying the park, helped raise over $130,000 for park restorations. The Park is also home to George Segal’s “Gay Liberation” statue, as the park is a stone’s throw from Stonewall, the site of the 1969 riot and beginning of the modern LGBT Rights movement. The park is managed through a private-public partnership between the NYC Parks Dept. and the Christopher Park Alliance, along with support by community residents and volunteers.
Recently, there were discussions of transferring Christopher Park to the National Park Service and making it a National Park. This would be an historic event as it would solidify the importance of the park for its place in LGBT history, as well as recognize an LGBT component within the narrative of the history of the United States.