Tucked away in the heart of the West Village, Christopher Park has marked itself as a staple in the neighborhood for more than 100 years. From the start the Park was a product of the neighborhood’s residents. After the population in the neighborhood began to grow rapidly in the early 1800s and a fire devastated considerable portions of the area in 1835, residents banned together and requested that a small triangular block be condemned in order to preserve much needed open space. The result of the hard work: the creation of Christopher Park on April 5, 1837.
During the first half of the 20th Century the park fell into disrepair, becoming a dividing line between the working class and artsy. It also witnessed some revolutionary moments, like the Stonewall riots in 1969—earning it a place on the National Register and the New York State Register of Historic Places. But, just like when the park was founded, it was a small group of dedicated residents that came together to bring the park back to its original splendor in the 1980s. Their $130,000 restoration brought in new benches, lampposts, trees, and shrubs.
In addition to a fence that’s more than 130 years old—a historical landmark—Christopher Park is also home to important works of art. In 1935 a sculpture of Civil War General Sheridan was placed in the park to honor his service. One year later a special flagpole was erected to memorialize the Fire Zouaves, an elite unit of Civil War officers who war uniforms styled after North African tribesman. Finally, in 1992 George Segal’s sculpture “Gay Liberation” was placed in the park to commemorate the gay rights movement that began across the street at the Stonewall Inn.