The plaza was developed as part of a master plan for the eastern part of campus by Max Abramowitz's firm, in 1956. Problematically, the plaza's plinth was developed several feet higher than the plinth of the central part of campus (on which Low Library rests, forcing stairs to be built from the historic part of campus to Ancel. Bizarrely, this was seen as a temporary solution until the entire northern half of the historic campus could be raised up to the level of the new plaza.
Students of South Asian descent often use the plaza for cricket games...or did, before heavy picnic tables and benches were strewn across it in Spring 2007.
The Hindu Students Organization holds its annual Holi festival on the plaza, usually in mid to late April. This festival involves lots of people throwing paint (?) at each other, staining the plaza in the process. Like the following video but on a smaller scale:
In 2010, Ancel Plaza was home to the graduation ceremony for Barnard College, since the construction of the Diana Center caused Barnard's open lawn (Lehman Lawn) to be too small to host the ceremony.