George Washington Park (The Rock)


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George Washington Park is a small traffic triangle located downtown at the corner Washtenaw Avenue and Hill Street. View the Ann Arbor Parks & Nature Areas Map​ for location context. More commonly known as "The Rock", you may not know that this triangle is a small city park! The Rock features unique and ever-changing art by various groups for all sorts of occasions​. This rock was brought to the site in 1932 by parks superintendent Eli Gallup as part of its celebration of the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth. The Rock itself is about 30,000 years old and features glacial grooves made when the glacier dragged it from the Georgian Bay. A dedication plaque made from collected scraps of copper exists underneath the layers and layers of paint​.

Park Notices

Unless otherwise posted per City Council resolution, when a park is closed, no person shall remain in or enter it other than to quietly sit or walk.​

Refer to Chapter 39 of the City of Ann Arbor Code of Ordinances for park regulations and rules.

Park Hours

6 a.m. – Midnight​​​

Access and Parking

There is​ no parking at the park. There is street parking on Lincoln Avenue​ which is about a 2 minute walk from the park, and on other nearby streets, but it may be hard to find parking when downtown is busy.​

There are sidewalks along Washtenaw Avenue and Hill Street, but no bike lanes. There are no bike racks at the park.

The park a short walk down Washtenaw from Doug​las Park​, Crary Park,​ South University Park and Postman's Rest Park.

Public Transportation

The nearest bus stop​ is right ​​next to the the park, just across Washtenaw. ​Visit TheRide for s​chedule and route details or check out the parks ride guide. ​​​​​​​



Ann Arbor's city parks sit on the ancestral and traditional homelands​ of several indigenous Native peoples. Read a land acknowledgement​​ from the city and learn more a​bout the early history of the land here.​​

The piece of land that became George Washington Park was donated to the city in 1911 by Louis Hall. Eli Gallup, who served as ​parks superintendent from 1919 to 196​​4, placed The Rock on this piece of land. This particular boulder was found in a city gravel pit off of Pontiac Trail, which is now Olson Park. It was commemorated to the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington. A plaque, made from metal that Gallup salvaged from city landfills, was created by local students and put on the rock several years later. Read more about the history of The Rock on this site in a 1991 Ann Arbor Observer article​, courtesy of the AADL.

The commemorative plaque on "The Rock", now buried under paint

The Rock sat undisturbed and unpainted for about sixty years, before the tradition of painting it began. Painting The Rock is now a tradition, but it has a surprising beginning. ​Sometime in the 1950s, The Rock was vandalized and painted for the first time with the letters of a rival school— M.S.U. This kickstarted a back-and-forth affair of painting the rock with the names of schools, fraternities, other organizations, rude messages and more.

In the past The Rock has been the subject of some controversy. Nearby residents complained of youth causing trouble in the area, and leaving paint cans and other debris behind at the park and in neighbor's yards. In 1993 the city considered removing The Rock due to the volume of complaints. Read a 1993 Ann Arbor News article​ covering the controversy. Soil samples were taken to check for VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and to measure the levels of lead in the soil around the rock. There was some lead in the soil, but below ​the MDNR's values for criteria for action. No VOCs were found, either, surprising some who thought that The Rock was a subject of massive contamination. The contractor who undertook the environmental investigation recommended no action was needed. The Rock, being seen as a cultural touchstone, was left to stay. It continues to be painted weekly as a tradition for University of Michigan students and Ann Arbor residents.

Today,The Rock is painted over constantly. Any message can appear on it, but most often it is covered with the names, logos and emblems of student organizations, clubs and fraternities. In February 2023 The Rock was seen painted white and green supporting the rival Michigan State University​, in an act of solidarity after a tragic shooting on MSU's campus.


Volunteer in the parks

Looking to make an impact in a park or nature area? Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation provides volunteer opportunities for almost every interest, ability, and commitment level.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities
Park Finder

Park Finder

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A2 Fix It

A2Fix It - Service request tool

A2 Fix It is an online system you can use to report any maintenance issues or other problems during your park visit. When reporting an issue in a park please include detailed location information in the "details and description" section near the end of the request process. Pictures that provide location context are very helpful.

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