Troy's Washington Park, from inside the fence

troy washington park looking out 2015-05-21

The gate for Troy's Washington Park was open Thursday evening as part of the hidden garden tour, so we had to take a few minutes roam around inside the fence. The blocks around the park are, of course, beautiful. And seeing them from inside the park is a different perspective.

Washington Park is famously one of only two private urban ornamental parks in New York State -- Gramercy Park in New York City is the other. Gramercy Park preceded Washington Park by eight years. They both drew on an idea that had emerged earlier in London in the 19th century of the shared private park.

Here's a little bit more about its history...

Washington Park dates back to 1839, when the parcel was acquired by a group of newly wealthy real estate owners. And as noted by Jeanne Keefe in a history of the park (a Sage College honors project in 1980), it actually preceded the grand row homes that front it on Washington Place. The park was deeded to the surrounding lots. From Keefe's history:

Furthermore the Deed of Partition goes on to state that "the plot of ground designated upon said map as a private park, called Washington Park, is to be devoted to the purpose of a private ornamental park for the use and recreation of the owners of the lots front upon said park and those lying north of Washington St. for a distance of 150 feet, on the west side of Second St. and 200 feet on the east side of Second St. for 175 feet on the west side of Third St. It is further intended that said ground so set apart for a private park as a aforementioned shall be conveyed in trust for the owners of the said lots last mentioned to the Corporation of the City of Troy as soon as an act of the Legislature shall be passed allowing such park so to be held perpetually in trust by the Corporation of the City of Troy as a private ornamental park for the proprietors of the lots fronting on said square." The Legislature never acted on this provision so the park was never turned over to the City of Troy to be held trust and is presently managed by the Washington Park Association, which is composed of all the owners of the lots mentioned above. The members have one vote per lot regarding any decisions that might have to be made pertaining to the management and maintenance of the park itself.

Like many parts of cities in the Capital Region, the area around the park has gone through some rough times. Many of the row houses along Washington Place were in bad shape during the 1980s and 90s. But the block has bounced back, with great effort, and even the street itself has gotten a makeover.

If you're ever in Troy and have a few extra minutes, the neighborhood around park is very much worth a stroll. Between the architecture and the park it's easily one of the Capital Region's most beautiful neighborhoods.

Comments

Not sure but why in any other part of the country, or the world for that matter, this area would be INUNDATED with people wanting to live there and it would be HOPPING. This is turly one of the more beautiful man made areas in the country, yet here in the Capital District it still struggles to survive.If you transported this park and architcture to just about anywhere the property values would be thru the roof, but here all you get is some urban pioneers paying HIGH taxes. What do we need to do to change this, or do people really not care around here?Please don't tell me that Troy is doing great and improving blah blah blah etc ad nauseum..I get it that it is better than 1970 when there were probably hookers and IV drug abusers iin the park.....I'm talking about why this area can't just seem to get over the hump.What is it about the mentality here that would prefer Wolf Road and Hooters to this?? I just don't get it.

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