Take a "Detour" through Union Square with David Rockwell

Tour Union Square with the distinguished architect + designer David Rockwell Photo: @rockwellgroup

Tour Union Square with the distinguished architect + designer David Rockwell Photo: @rockwellgroup

Discover Union Square through the eyes of acclaimed architect and designer David Rockwell on an interactive historical tour of Union Square and its landmarks with Detour. The tour is free through Labor Day (after the 4th, you can enjoy it for $5).

On the tour, you will learn about how this iconic public space influences life and still commands the attention of visitors and residents.

“In the quiet, central area of Union Square Park, I found surprisingly few people are staring at their screens. They’re taking in the city around them; the space encourages them to connect with their environment," Mr. Rockwell explains on the audio tour. He continues, "Ultimately, what I think makes Union Square so great is that it is small, it's smart, it's generous, it's flexible, and it makes New York City so much more livable."

Rockwell gives an intimate account of how Union Square looked multiple time periods. You’ll learn how Boss Tweed went head to head with one of the world's great parks designers, Frederick Law Olmsted, visit the site of the old Tammany Hall, stop into the W New York – Union Square,  and experience how Union Square has been the stage for some of New York's most important protests, celebrations and public gatherings for nearly 200 years.

Rockwell's own history is rooted in Union Square. His design firm, Rockwell Group, has its global headquarters located on Union Square West, and many of its projects define the neighborhood. The firm designed the new Union Square Cafe, W New York – Union Square, and Maialino, plus new local projects in the works.

Download the Detour App to your phone (we recommend a full charge), bring headphones, and walk to the South Plaza. Once you're there, hit Start in the app and listen as Rockwell invites you to turn your back towards 14th Street, look up the plaza steps towards the George Washington Statue, and take in the park as if it were a stage.

Look across the street and then venture into the W New York—Union Square as part of the tour. Photo Credit: Jane Kratchovil

Look across the street and then venture into the W New YorkUnion Square as part of the tour. Photo Credit: Jane Kratchovil

Rockwell Group designed the new Union Square Cafe to preserve the familiarity of the original restaurant, but imagine something brand new.

Rockwell Group designed the new Union Square Cafe to preserve the familiarity of the original restaurant, but imagine something brand new.

Explore the difference between Union Square Park's original 1839 design and current design of the park.

Explore the difference between Union Square Park's original 1839 design and current design of the park.