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Washington Square

“This grant not only recognizes the potential of our historic park but also empowers us to work together with the community on a vision of Washington Square that is vibrant, accessible, and safe for everyone. By fostering a closer connection with the residents, workers, and businesses of downtown Rochester, we aim to create a community space where more people come to engage, relax, and connect to their community.”

Jason Schwingle, President of the Washington Square Community Association

Downtown Development Corporation
New York

Downtown Rochester, New York, is home to the historic Washington Square, established in 1817 and redesigned by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1892 as a classic, symmetrical urban square. The landmark serves as a gateway to downtown and is adjacent to transit, bike lanes, and the Genesee Riverway Trail. It is home to a statue of Frederick Douglass in addition to several others. However, while the park is often used for events and rallies, area residents observe that it lacks regular activation and programming. 

Guided by the Washington Square Community Design Exploration of 2018, Project for Public Spaces will lead a community engagement and visioning process to identify project goals and community design objectives that inform a vision for short-term temporary improvements and programming at this historic square through a Community Placemaking Grant. Working with local stakeholders including the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation and the Washington Square Park Community Association, this project will seek to “energize the public space, be sensitive to its purpose and history, and reconnect it with the community it serves,” as a 2018 report produced by Stantec put it. We know that parks and public spaces are best when everyone can see themselves in them, and this project is an opportunity to generate spaces and activities that will serve the broader community and  create a more welcoming Washington Square that can be home to daily activities for all.

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