Originally founded in 1800 as a burial ground under the label "The State Street Burial Ground", Washington Park has seen a lot of change throughout the years. After the outbreak of a disease in 1832 the gravesite became overcrowded. This resulted in the approximated forty thousand graves being relocated to a new site.
The public park's construction began in 1870 after the New York State Legislature granted permission for the park to be created in 1869, and also only a few years after the removal of the last few graves was completed. This construction lasted throughout the late eighteen hundreds until it reached it's current fifty two acre landmark. As a result, the surrounding properties experienced a significant increase in value during the late eighteen hundreds.
The modern day Washington Park has several features and sites that suit all age groups such as basketball courts, handball courts and tennis courts. The long pathways provide a safe trail for running, walking, biking or skateboarding and ice skating is allowed during the winter when the lake is stable enough. This is a wide range of activities that welcomes several demographic groups.
Tulipfest is one of the many special occasions that take place at Washington Park. The main attraction of Tulipfest is the blossoming of thousands and thousands of tulips to kick-off the new spring season. Incorporated into this is Pinksterfest that is an African-American tradition which represents the day of rest that slaves would have due to Dutch tradition. Originally a Dutch religious holiday, this celebration began to include African-Americans because salve-owning families would allow the slaves a day off from work to enjoy drinking, dancing and music at such gatherings. It developed into a day for African-Americans and other black americans to acknowledge slavery and the triumph over slavery. Today this event involves storytelling, dancing, music, drumming, the election of a Pinkster King and to top it all off, a big parade for the public to enjoy.
There are various structures and statues located at Washington Park that commemorate figures like political figures and war heroes. The first memorial to be placed in the park is a bust of James H. Armsby, who is a co-founder of Albany Medical College. It was erected in 1879 during some of the final touches of construction to the park.