Fancy Restaurant in the Middle of Union Square?


You may have noticed that the Union Square greenmarket has been shifted south, crowding the farmers’ stands up next to the painters and the creepy dude giving out “free hugs.” That’s because the city plans to convert the pavilion at the north side of the square from a children’s playground into an upscale restaurant.

If you feel (as Our Man Sietsema and I do) that digging up the north end of the square for yet another expensive restaurant is not such a good idea, you can go to a demonstration on Wednesday at 5pm against the proposed privatization.

Details, and press release after the jump.


NEW YORK – Save Union Square 2008, a group of concerned New York
residents, has taken up the fight to stop privatization of a historic
portion of Manhattan’s Union Square. Last Wed., they began holding
weekly events to raise opposition to plans by the city and private
interests to convert the historic Pavilion at the north end of Union
Square from a children’s indoor playground and community space into a
private, upscale restaurant.

This week, members say the campaign goes into high gear with a major
demonstration coinciding with the Annual Meeting of the Union Square
Partnership. The Partnership is the organization of Union Square
merchants that has taken charge – with Mayor Bloomberg’s support – of
redevelopment of the park.

Who: Save Union Square 2008
What: Rally against privatization of Union Square
Where: NE corner of Union Square Park, at E17th Street, Manhattan
When: Thurs., June 5, 5 p.m.

Hereafter, every Wed. at 5pm, Save Union Square 2008 promise to be in
the park, performing, recruiting, and urging passersby to sign an online
petition and contact Councilperson Rosie Mendez, who has the power to
stop this terrible plan.

Public opposition still has a chance to stop the bulldozing and
conversion of the Pavilion. Since 2006, the plan has been in limbo due
to a lawsuit filed by the Union Square Community Coalition. Despite
rallying the support of numerous elected officials (see, private interests and the Bloomberg
administration sneaked through a review-and-approval process that
appeared rigged from the outset. That transaction is now under review in
court (

“We have a real chance to stop this, so it’s crucial that the people’s
voice be heard,” says Mark Read, a professor at nearby New York
University and member of Save Union Square 2008. “Union Square has a
tremendous tradition of free speech, going back to the days of Emma
Goldman and Paul Robeson, that’s still very much alive. It’s a vibrant
gathering place for people from throughout the city – check it out any
day this summer. Giving away space that should be for children and
community use, and turning it into a watering hole for the affluent
would be a travesty. Yet, as so often in the past, City Hall is trying
to do it under our noses.”