In 1826 the City bought additional land, the square was laid out and leveled, and it was turned into the Washington Military Parade Ground. Military parade grounds were public spaces specified by the city where volunteer militia companies responsible for the nation's defence would train. The streets surrounding the square became one of the city's most desirable residential areas in the 1830's. The protected row of Greek Revival style houses on the north side of the park remain from that time.
At 9.75 acres Washington Square Park is one of the best-known of NYC's 1,700 public parks, and is a landmark in the Manhattan neighborhood of Greenwich Village, as well as a meeting place and center for cultural activity. An open space with a tradition of nonconformity, the park's fountain area has long been one of the city's popular spots for residents and tourists.