Union Square, New York

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In the early 1800s, upscale townhouses and local theaters thrived in the area surrounding Union Square. In the 1850s and 1860s, factories and offices replaced the residences, and unionists and abolitionists held massive rallies here. In the 1920s, labor activists gathered, protested and rioted. As recent as the late 1980s and early 1990s, urban decay tainted the Square and its surrounding areas. But today, a lovely park is the centerpiece of a chic neighborhood brimming with restaurants, upscale shops and retail giants. The popular Union Square Greenmarket also takes place here.