Tompkins Square Park’s first dog run

In a city obsessed with dogs, it’s hard to imagine that there were no dog runs in city parks until one was established in 1990 in Tompkins Square Park. Now, dog runs exist in about 60 parks across the five boroughs.


At Tompkins Square Park, the amenities aren’t bad. The privately funded “First Run” has a granite sand surface, wading pools, and separate sections for the big dogs and little guys.

These two shaggy pups are loving the picnic table—it brings them closer to the squirrels in trees.

Tompkins Square Park has a pretty colorful history going back a century and a half. 

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8 Responses to “Tompkins Square Park’s first dog run”

  1. Stoney Nibbles Says:

    It is a hard to think about a city without dog runs… I used to go to Tompkins, now I mostly got to washington square park and 72st run at riverside… that is my favorite though.. have you ever been?

  2. peter Says:

    Tompkins sq park had a dog run at it’s south east corner in the 1960s

  3. Young dog runs « City Snapshots Says:

    […] 7, 2009 · Leave a Comment Check out this post on Ephemeral New York about the first dog run in the city.  It opened in […]

  4. Tinkerbell Says:

    We took our dog to Topmkins Square Park Dog run recently and had a horrible experience. The only positive aspect which i am not so sure was even that positive because of how overly crowded it was, was the seperation between small and large dogs. We have a small dog, however there were so many dogs in there with owners that paid no attention to there own because of being on there cell phones, reading a book, or socializing with other dog owners. Meanwhile,o ur pupppy was absolutely traumatized. The dogs were overly aggresive due to no discipline from there owners and i find that irresponsible at a public place such as a dog run. The shady crowd that hangs out in the park does not add to an enjoyable environment either. We now go to Washington Square Park where it is much cleaner, controlled, and the people are much more considerate and friendly.

  5. ina's friend Says:

    The new TS dog run is terrible! It is like being in a huge, smelly, dirty cat litter box. The old surface was much better and more natural, and why did they remove the trees and thus the shady areas? Now it is just disgusting.

    • Monica McLaughlin Says:

      I live in the Upper East Side and use the new East River Esplanade Dog run which has the same surface as the Tompkins Square Dog run. Our dog run surface, too, is beyond disgusting. It is filthy, dusty when dry and floods very easily simply from using doggy swimming pools. Our dog run cost $1 million dollars!!!! And now our Councilwoman Jessica Lappin along with Manhattan Bourough Parks Commissioner wants to take more tax dollars to try to fix the problem. This will be the second attempt to try to fix this dog run which has been open for less than a year.

  6. Monica McLaughlin Says:

    Who moved the dog run????

    The 197-a Plan for the Queensboro Bridge Area, authored by Community Board 8 and approved in 2005, is part of the New York City Waterfront Revitalization Program. The 197-a is intended to serve as a guide for the coordinated revitalization of the area around the Queensboro Bridge. After much discussion in 2004 (and before approval of the 197-a) city officials and organizations and the community voted to leave the dog run where it was in Pavilion Park. The 197-a was approved by the City Planning Commission, CB8 and the COMMUNITY in the summer of 2006 after receiving endorsements by the Manhattan Borough President, Scott M. Stringer and Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney who sent letters of support (that specifically mentioned the Pavilion Park Dog run) to Christine Quinn, Speaker of the NYC Council and to Amanda Burden, Director of the Dept. of City Planning.

    SUDDENLY on February 1, 2009, CB8, on orders from Adrian Benepe, Commissioner of the New York City Parks & Recreation Department, a decision was made to MOVE the dog run. Funding to the tune of $1 MILLION was approved by Councilwoman Jessica Lappin. In conjunction, these same officials (along with the NYCdog organization) decided to cover the surface of the dog run with crushed stone. The move and the controversial surface material was STRONGLY opposed by dog run user community including those who did NOT own dogs. They were ignored by officials. (See 3/1/07 CB8 meeting minutes.)

    What we now have is a 6,000 square foot sand pit on the esplanade. The area is overrun by dogs with only a narrow strip of land for bicyclists, children and non dog owners to utilize. he entire community has been robbed of green space. This is an issue that affects everyone.

    Why was the dog run moved against community wishes?? Why has $1 MILLION TAX-PAYER dollars been spent on a new dog run (with more $$$ to follow) when we already had a wonderful maintenance- free dog run????

    We want answers!!!

  7. Nabe News: June 26 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] first NYC dog run was established in Tompkins Square Park back in 1990 [Ephemeral […]

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