Washington Irving High School

After about five years of construction, which were very hard on many members of the community, the final pieces of the Washington Irving High School project are complete. In addition to the construction, a tree that was destroyed in the process was replaced and the bust of Washington Irving* was uncovered and cleaned. The last bit of scaffolding surrounding the building was finally taken down.

Washington Irving High School, formerly called Wadleigh High School, is a significant institution in the history of women’s education in New York City, being the only school for girls in Manhattan when it was built in 1913. It was the brainchild of progressive educator William McAndrew, who believed that girls training for vocational or technical trades and those undertaking an academic curriculum should be educated together since they had much to teach each other. As a result, construction of the school was exceedingly difficult because of the extensive curriculum. Subjects taught included housekeeping, marketing, garment making, drawing, plain and fancy cooking, picture hanging, dancing, typewriting, bookbinding, and gardening, in addition to the usual high school subjects. The bust of Washington Irving was sculpted by Friedrich Beer and added in 1935, and the school continued to expand as attendance increased. Notable attendees include the artist Lee Krasner, singer Sylvia Robinson, and Academy Award-winning actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg.

Washington Irving High School became co-ed in 1986. Today, Irving’s bust features prominently on school IDs.

We were just notified by a member that the bust has been removed. We will endeavor to find out what happened and when it will be returned.

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Marvin (seated at center in the photo above) loved Stuyvesant Park, spending time there every day from 12-3:15pm, weather permitting. Marvin had memory issues or what he called CRS, “can’t remember sh*t.” But the park was his delight – hearing the children play, watching the flowers bloom and the trees bud, paying for doughnuts for students from Success Academy, listening to the dogs bark and making friends with other neighbors who celebrated his 92nd birthday with him in the park.

Marvin and his wife, Linda, moved to the neighborhood in 2004 from Emerson, NJ. Born and raised in Brooklyn, they were happy to return to the city once their THREE children were grown. Marvin continued to work on 47th Street as a diamond setter, work he loved and did for 55 years, only retiring at 85. When he wasn’t working, he had been an avid gardener at their home in NJ, spending five to six hours every weekend planning, planting, pruning and mowing. His other interest was the stock market until his memory declined three years ago.

Marvin died in April 2022, and “Marvin’s Bench” near 16th Street and Rutherford Place, facing the fountain, is in his memory, a place he often sat, contentedly watching the world go by.

Marvin's Bench

Thank you, Board Member Janice Armstrong, for contributing this lovely remembrance to our newsletter.

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SPNA Invests in a Rate Abatement Program

As everyone is aware, New York City has an out of control rat problem and Stuyvesant Square Park is no exception.

In order to get this situation under control, the SPNA board voted to hire a private company to execute a rat abatement program. This is an expensive undertaking, but as the Parks Department only has one exterminator for all of the parks in Manhattan, it was obvious that they would not be able to do what was necessary to reign in this problem.

The company that was hired uses safe and effective methods for rodent control which have been approved by the Parks Department. They work in many parks in the city including Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, and Gramercy Park, among others. The work was started in the beginning of January.

SPNA is hopeful that this program will help everyone who visits Stuyvesant Square – neighbors, volunteers and even our pups – to have a safer and more pleasant park experience.

You can read more about rats in New York City in this New York Times article.

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Sex and the City Reboot Filmed in Stuyvesant Square

In October, our park was the film set for an episode of Sex and the City’s reboot, And Just Like That… Above is the crew filming near the fountain in the west side of the park. You can catch our park in episode 6 of And Just Like That…

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Emergency Tree Pruning

Last week, NYC Parks’ Josie DeJesus heard a sharp, cracking noise as she walked through the park. She alerted NYC Parks, who then conducted emergency tree pruning to ensure the safety of visitors to the park. Unfortunately, the tree could not be saved and was cut down.

The trees in our park and in the city are vital green spaces that improve air quality and provide homes to the city’s wildlife. This situation demonstrates the importance of preventive maintenance in SPNA’s three-phase plan to care for the trees in our park.

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