BOWLING GREEN


Manhattan "Hilly Islands" or "Place of Drunkenness"

Was Purchased Here (or perhaps not?)

BOWLING GREEN is the place according to legend where Manhattan was allegedly purchased on May 6, 1626 from the Indian tribes of the area.  Originally a cow pasture and a parade ground, Bowling Green is now a very small park – resembling a tiny plaza.  Dutch settlers first introduced lawn bowling to America here (therefore the name Bowling Green) and other entertainments such as turkey shoots and cockfights were held here.  In Colonial New York Bowling Green was at the water's edge of Manhattan and Fort Amsterdam (later renamed Fort George), a military fortification, was located here at the spot where The National Museum of the American Indian, originally the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House, now stands. 

In 1770 a statue of England’s KING GEORGE III (on horseback) was erected here after the English Parliament repelled the Townsend Act (duties on lead, glass, paint and tea).  That statue was so disliked by the public and graffiti such a problem that the City passed anti-graffiti laws. A fence to protect the statue was built in 1771.  However, on July 19, 1776, the King George III statue met its demise when citizens and soldiers tore it down following a reading of the Declaration of Independence to George Washington’s troops.  The event was depicted in the painting Pulling Down the Statue of George III.  Part of the statue now resides at the NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY, but, most of it, which was constructed of lead and covered with gold, was melted down and turned into 40,000 bullets for the American patriots.

 A few years later in 1783, Bowling Green was the site of the raising of the American flag, a “13-gun salute” and an evening fireworks display as New Yorkers celebrated the end of the American Revolution and the departure of the last British troops.  A shooting water fountain now stands at the spot where the King George III statue once reigned.  In 1989 another statue – one of a Charging Bull representing a bullish stock market -- was moved to Bowling Green (after having been illegally installed on Wall Street and subsequently confiscated by the NYC Police Department).  A wrought-iron fence in the park dates back to 1733.

In June 1776 General George Washington established his first headquarters here at One Broadway.



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