Washington Square Park was uncharacteristically quiet Friday night as the torrential rain kept revelers at home, leaving dozens of cops standing aimlessly chatting around the New York City landmark.
NYPD officers descended in force on the iconic Manhattan park once again as July 4 celebrations got into swing across the Big Apple.
But concerns the park would erupt in a huge after-dark rave failed to materialize as the city was struck by stormy weather at the end of a week of scorching heatwaves.
Only a handful of people headed to the famous arch and fountain after dark, with police appearing to outnumber the partygoers who have been flocking to the park every night in recent months.
Police were seen arresting just one woman and loading her into the back of a police cruiser, after she appeared to have broken through the police barricades.
It was not clear why she was arrested with a request for information from the NYPD unreturned late Friday.
Washington Square Park was uncharacteristically quiet Friday night as the torrential rain kept revelers at home
Dozens of cops were seen standing aimlessly around the New York City landmark Friday night after they descended in force on the iconic Manhattan park
The iconic fountain sat almost empty Friday night while July 4 celebrations got into swing across the Big Apple
The quiet night will likely come as some relief to the wealthy Greenwich Village residents living close to the park who have complained about the park’s new image as a party destination.
The public park in the heart of the Big Apple has been a growing source of tension in recent weeks with residents and ravers coming to blows.
With bars and restaurants facing tight restrictions over the last year due to the pandemic, it increasingly transformed into a popular party destination.
Hundreds have been seen gathering for nightly raves in defiance of a midnight curfew, with people dancing and drinking into the early hours.
Impromptu boxing matches, complete with referees and time keepers, have also become a fixture.
Residents have complained about the noise as well as increased drug use and violence in the park, claiming they are scared to walk around the area at night.
On Sunday night, during Pride celebrations, a 66-year-old hot dog seller was attacked by a woman in Washington Square Park who punched him in the head and threw hot sauce in his eyes.
Police were seen arresting just one woman and loading her into the back of a police cruiser, after she appeared to get past the police barricades
The woman was led in handcuffs by cops to a police cruiser. It was not clear why she was arrested with a request for information from the NYPD unreturned late Friday
Police load the woman into the back of a police car. Concerns the park would erupt in a huge after-dark rave failed to materialize with other cops stood round chatting
Nader Hassaneen, an Egyptian immigrant and street vendor, told The New York Post the woman pulled an American flag from the cart and demanded he replace it with a rainbow Pride flag.
The incident escalated and someone threw hot sauce in his eyes, before he was punched and pushed repeatedly.
One person who filmed the scene said Hassaneen used a homophobic slur, but he denied that.
Hassaneen and Abdelalim Abdelbaky, 28, who operates the cart, said it was not the first attack on him or his employees in the park.
The same night, NYPD officers used pepper spray on Pride attendees after revelers reportedly got angry with how police responded to a break in the metal barricades surrounding the park.
This came after an incident on June 18 where a woman was left bloodied and bruised after being trampled on by terrified crowds trying to flee a man armed with a large knife and a taser.
The man, identified as Jason McDermott, was arrested at the scene.
The city was struck by stormy weather at the end of a week of scorching heatwaves – keeping revelers at bay for one night
The quiet night will likely come as some relief to the wealthy Greenwich Village residents living close to the park
Cops appeared to outnumber partygoers Friday night as only a handful of people headed to the famous arch and fountain after dark
This came one week after a chaotic Saturday night where two people were stabbed, a man beaten and mugged of his phone and a 77-year-old cook at a nearby diner attacked.
Police have struggled to bring the park under control, implementing a 10pm weekend curfew from Memorial Day.
However, this was short-lived, with the midnight closing time restored following clashes between police and partygoers on June 5.
A total of 23 people were arrested and eight cops injured that night.
Ever since then, cops have taken a more hands-off approach to enforcing the curfew.
Nader Hassaneen, an Egyptian immigrant and retired street vendor, was attacked in Washington Square Park on Sunday
People could be seen tending to Hassaneen in the street following the beating late on Sunday night in the park
At least three people were arrested as officers and Pride participants were battling against one another Sunday
The park was packed with partygoers Sunday to celebrate Pride in the city, topping of dozens of consecutive nights of raves in the park
People gather in Washington Square Park for the 3rd annual Queer Liberation March in New York during the day Sunday
Last month, in an effort to tackle the simmering tensions and find solutions for both sides, a community meeting was held.
Hundreds of locals joined the meeting at Lady of Pompeii Church to complain that the park ‘has become a drug den’ and a ‘free-for-all’.
Several hundred turned up to air their grievances, with around 100 turned away from the meeting, but there appears to be little change since.
The chaos in Washington Square Park comes as New York City is recording a surge in violent crime.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said in May the crime wave was a ‘major problem’ and said unless the NYPD gets a handle on it soon, the city would become undesirable.
‘New Yorkers don’t feel safe and they don’t feel safe because the crime rate is up. It’s not that they are being neurotic or overly sensitive – they are right,’ he said.
Washington Square Park through the ages
Nestled in the heart of Manhattan, Washington Square Park is known for its iconic arch and fountain.
But long before they were built, it was an area of marsh land with a natural waterway named Minetta Creek home to fresh trout.
The Native American Lenape tribe cultivated the land in the 1600s before it was taken over by the Dutch.
The Dutch then offered some of the land to African-born slaves they freed in 1642 – but the free black farmers then lost the land again under English rule.
In 1797, the City’s Common Council converted the land into a Potter’s Field – the name for an area where the poor were buried. The site is also thought to have been the site of public executions.
Then, in 1826, the area around the park was converted into a militia training ground named Washington Military Parade Ground. The next year, some parts were turned into a public park.
Famously, Samuel F.B. Morse gave a public demonstration of his new invention – the telegraph – in the park in 1838
After the City’s Department of Public Parks was formed to look after the city’s parks in 1870, it underwent a major redesign with curved paths and shaded areas to provide an escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.
The iconic marble Washington Arch was built between 1890-1892 and other monuments were erected over the coming years.
Throughout the 20th century, the park increasingly became a site of protest and performances with labor unions marching after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, and the Beat generation and folkies setting up in the park.
Later redesigns followed and the Arch was restored in the noughties.
The park, now named after George Washington who was inaugurated as the first US president in New York City in 1789, continues to be a popular place for protests and cultural events.