City Squares: A Conversation | June 23

Men play chess in Tompkins Square Park | Photo by Chase Elliott Clark, via Flickr

Summer has arrived and New York’s open spaces are filling to the brim, as people flock outside during lunch breaks and relax on benches while the sun goes down. Our beloved parks are packed, but so, too, are the often-unsung heroes of public space: city squares. New York has thirty-three squares in all, from leafy Stuyvesant to thrumming Times. This summer, square denizens may be limited to people in suits hunched over their salads or clusters of musicians playing jazz. But then again, the squares of this city, like squares the world over, have played vital and various roles in cultural and political life since the very beginning of New York’s history. From Union Square labor marches to the Vietnam War protests of Tompkins Square, it’s clear those roles will be reprised time and time again.


Strikers hold up protest signs in Italian, English, and Yiddish during the 1913 May Day Parade in Union Square | Image from Library of Congress, via WikimediaCommons

In City Squares: Eighteen Writers on the Spirit and Significance of Squares Around the World, edited by Catie Marron, 18 celebrated writers including David Remnick, Zadie Smith, and Adam Gopnik reflect on the creation of individual and collective memory within public space from Paris to Marrakech to the Internet. As Remnick describes, writing on Moscow’s Red Square, the crowd may change—power dynamics may shift, authority may be enforced or overturned—but the significance of the square in urban life remains the same.

Join The Architectural League, HarperCollins, and fellow Urban Omnibus readers at Rizzoli Bookstore on June 23 as we celebrate the publication of City Squares, with a conversation between Catie Marron, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, and architecture educator and critic Reed Kroloff. A reception and book signing will follow.

Time & Place
Thursday, June 23, 2016
6:30 – 7:30 pm
Book signing and reception will follow
Rizzoli Bookstore
1133 Broadway

This event is free and open to all. Reservations are neither needed nor accepted.


“Pigeon” Paul Zig is one of several pigeon lovers who frequents Washington Square Park | Photo by JoeInQueens, via WikimediaCommons