Happy Birthday Washington Square Park Arch! The structure, designed by architect Stanford White and built between 1890-1892, turns 115 today—while it was basically complete by 1892, it wasn't officially unveiled until 1895 when New York governor Levi P. Morton paraded down 5th Avenue to present it to a crowd of New Yorkers.
According to Inside the Apple, the arch was actually built twice, "the first one was made of wood, plaster, and papier-mâché and erected on Fifth Avenue just north of Washington Square in 1889 as a part of the festivities in honor of the centennial of George Washington's inaugural." After the festivities were over, a fundraising committee was formed and a permanent, marble replacement was put in place.
Around the time the second arch was complete marked the beginning of the City Beautiful movement and the formation of the Municipal Art Society, whose motto was (according to this 1893 NY Times article), "To make us love our country, we should make our country lovely." Check out some more photos of the arch's past at NYC Architecture. Today the history of the park still pops up from time to time, most recently a tombstone from 1799 was unearthed from when the area was a potter's field.