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Flatiron Hot! News | August 19, 2017

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Mad. Sq. 200 Historic Fair Celebrates Naming of Madison Square Park

Mad. Sq. 200 Historic Fair Celebrates Naming of Madison Square Park
Tod Shapiro

By Tod Shapiro and the Flatiron Hot! News Editorial Staff

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This past Saturday saw a rollicking celebration of the 200th anniversary of the naming of our very own Madison Square Park!  A sizable crowd was on hand to enjoy the fun and sun, and take part in an excellent combination of activities, exhibits, games and entertainment. Madison Square Park dates back to 1686, and was enjoyed by the inhabitants of Manhattan at that time as a public space. Until 1814,it, and the surrounding environs, were simply referred to as the “Parade Ground.” At that time, it was renamed Madison Square Park in honor of James Madison, our founding father who, more than any other, helped flesh out our Bill of Rights and bring our Constitution to life. The use of the park was ever-increasing, and as New York City as we know it came into being, it grew right along with it.   Upon the establishment of the first Department of Public Parks in 1870, those well-known park luminaries Willaim Grant and Ignatz Pilat laid out the master plan for paths and landscaping that still exist today.

The Flatiron Hot! News staff was on hand to record for posterity some of the action.  A well-attended sound stage was setup on the grounds, with performances by Mad. Sq.200 Quartet, followed by Kid Ace and the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. Many area cultural institutions and non-profits sponsored booths, including the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership and the Madison Square Park Conservancy. The New York City Transit Museum was on hand with one of their original vintage double-decker buses, open to inspection by sightseers, with a 19th-century bus map and timetable on display, to boot. The Museum of Interesting Things had a table of genuine early NYC artifacts, including a hand-wound Victrola; and Leading Ladies Costumes set up shop along with models to let those in attendance see some 19th-century top fashion statements. And to top it all off, the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers–in full costume–gave a demo of some of the popular dance steps of the time, and invited fair-goers to join in the fun, along with some timely instruction. For those who couldn’t make it, check out our short video of the day’s events.