Washington Square Park is one of the best-known of New York City's 1,700 public parks. At 9.75 acres (39,000 m²), it is a landmark in the Manhattan neighborhood of Greenwich Village, as well as a meeting place and center for cultural activity. It is operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. An open space with a tradition of nonconformity, the park's fountain area has long been one of the city's popular spots for residents and tourists. Most of the buildings surrounding the park now belong to New York University. Some of the buildings have been built by NYU, others have been converted from their former uses into academic and residential buildings. The university rents the park for its graduation ceremonies, and uses the Arch as a symbol. NYU wants the park to be the core of the school's campus. As early as 1922 its Chancellor predicted that the university would take over the park for its own uses, but so far that has not happened. Local residents consider the park to be an essential part of the neighborhood, and have mounted campaigns to preserve it.