Raleigh, North Carolina, was one of the early American cities that consciously planned for squares of green space during its original design. (See Raleigh’s 1792 city plan here.) In fact, Raleigh once had five park-like squares. Today, only two remain: Moore Square and Nash Square.
Nash Square is at the center of W. Hargett, S. McDowell, W. Martin, and S. Dawson Streets not far from the State Capital and downtown Raleigh proper. The park, which was redesigned in the 1940s, currently contains two sculptures. The first is a statue of Josephus Daniels, a Raleigh News & Observer publisher who also served as Secretary of the Navy during World War I and Ambassador to Mexico from 1933 to 1941. The park’s central feature is a fallen firefighter’s memorial that was erected in May 2006. If you like history and have a healthy respect for the bravery and sacrifice that civil servants demonstrate in their duty to their beloved communities, the memorial is quite moving. Plaques denote the names of firefighters across North Carolina who fell in the line of duty from the early 1900s to present day. Blank slates serve as placeholders to honor—I am sorry to say—fallen heroes of the future. A four-firefighter sculpture stands in the center of the 50-foot memorial and is quite sobering. At night, the sculpture lights up at its base and looks like it’s on fire.
With its willow oaks, magnolias trees, and walkways, Nash Square is a hidden gem in plain sight. It is well shaded, well maintained, and the park benches look clean and relatively new. There is parking along the square, including two electric car hook-ups. During the week, Nash Square is a shady spot to eat lunch or to read.
The beauty of a city is not just its skyline, but how it’s developed and maintained. Green spaces have long been known to enhance the aesthetic beauty and quality of life of a city. —Raleigh Public Record