Tompkins Square Park
Tue Aug 26 2008
Photograph: Q. Sakamaki, published by Powerhouse Books
Though many of its mourners never experienced the crime, protests, soapbox preachers, police skirmishes, homeless colonies and hypodermic needles of Tompkins Square Park in the 1980s and early ’90s, they loiter and lament ’em nonetheless. “High-school dropouts still come here during the summertime,” muses photographer and East Village resident Q. Sakamaki, whose new book, Tompkins Square Park, captures the public space in its glory days. “People feel like they’re touching the spirits of old New York when they’re here.”
While some romanticize the 10.5-acre space’s turbulent past, others—particularly Alphabet City dog owners—say to hell with that rose-tinted hogwash. “What had happened to the city was an absolute disgrace,” says Garrett Rosso, manager of First Run, TSP’s 18,000-square-foot off-leash dog run. “The park was nothing more than an urban-blight zone. It was dangerous.”When the park was finally closed—and a curfew implemented—in 1991, New Yorkers bid adieu to its controversial colonies and said hello to a $2.1-million renovation. The politically conscious talk moved under the elms (one of which serves as a monument for Hare Krishnas), and demonstrators deferred to Union Square. The only bitching to be found these days is probably between Chihuahua and Mastiff owners near one of First Run’s three bone-shaped doggy swimming pools.
And speaking of, in celebration of bike month masters can bring their pups and bicycles to Sunday 31's second annual Doggie Pedal Parade where they can ride their dogs around in baskets or trailers. Snacks and playtime will be available after the event.
Go there now! Take the L to First Ave. The park is located between 7th and 10th Sts between Aves A and B.