Public Square

From Jefferson County NY Wiki
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Public Square is an open mall that lies in the center of Watertown. The square is a designated historic site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Description[edit | edit source]

The square is actually rectangular in shape, and buildings line all four sides. Traffic follows a pattern that circles the large oval park in the square's center. Six of Watertown's busiest streets (Arsenal, Court, Mill, State, Franklin and Washington) intersect at the square, making it a heavily travelled thoroughfare.

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Public Square's main architectural character lies in the many 19th and early 20th century buildings that stand today. A few modern structures built within the last 50 years blend in with these older buildings.

History[edit | edit source]

(For a more in depth history of the square, see Public Square History)

(For a listing of significant dates and events, see Public Square Timeline)

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Watertown's first settlements in 1800 were on what is today Public Square's west end. In 1805, continued settlement led land owners to deed the land the square now occupies for public use. Originally called "The Mall", the square quickly became the center of Watertown's business and commerce. Fire destroyed much of the square in 1849, but quick rebuilding insured that it would remain the heart of Watertown's business and social life for over a century.

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Declining industrial wealth that plagued Watertown in the latter half of the 20th century affected the square, as did modern retail development on outer Arsenal Street during the 1980's. Since then, many businesses on Public Square have struggled to remain viable, while the square's infrastructure and architectural integrity continued to decline.

Today[edit | edit source]

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For historic photos, visit the Public Square History pages).

Public Square today is at a crossroads. Pride in the square as Watertown's historic center, coupled with making the square economically viable to modern consumers has been the goal of many business and government leaders. The Streetscape Project, which includes a complete redesign and beautification of Public Square, is hoped to help reverse the square's fortunes and hopefully bring more consumers and development.

Notable Structures on Public Square[edit | edit source]

(List is incomplete and needs additions. See also Historic Structures in Watertown)

Paddock Building (b. 1850)

Paddock Arcade (b. 1850)

Woolworth Building (b. 1921)

Cam’s Pizzeria, formerly part of the Iron Block (b. 1850)

Woodruff Professional Building (b. 1996)

Lincoln Building (b. 1870, remodeled 1908)

Buck Building (b. 1870)

First Baptist Church (b. 1891)

Henry Keep Apartments (b. 1991)

Franklin Building (b. 1906)

Commerce Building (b. 1924)

Hibbard Building (b. 1860’s)

Bonadio Building (b. 1900)

YMCA (b. 1913)

Public Square Fountain

Current Businesses and Organizations[edit | edit source]

For a list of current Public Square businesses, see Watertown Streets.

External Links[edit | edit source]

Downtown Business Association

Public Square Webcam