The bad old days of Tompkins Square Park

In December 1986, the city unveiled plans for a massive renovation of Tompkins Square Park—new landscaping, new playgrounds, no more bandshell. The goal was to create more open space and make it a lot less sketchy.

Well, those plans didn’t go over well with community leaders, reported an article in that month’s East Village Eye

“Open space would break up the traditional uses for the park. As it is, all the people in the community have a little part they feel comfortable in,” one local told the paper.

“There’s the Ukrainian old men’s area, and the bandshell, used mostly by younger people. There are four different playground areas, divided more or less by age group. And there’s the part where older black men play cards. Tompkins Square is like a mirror held up to our community.”

Eventually the park did get its renovation in 1991-1992. But not without a fight, namely the riots in the late ’80s sparked by cops trying to clear encampments of homeless people—like “Dog Man” above.

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5 Responses to “The bad old days of Tompkins Square Park”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    ‘Bad old days’ is right, you couldn’t get away from the human stench emanating from areas of the park as you tried to walk by. And after a while walking past meant nothing you had to avoid that morass of humanity just rotting away. Good that the cops rode in and cleaned that mess out….I still recall the stench ugh! Disgusting….

  2. drinkwindexx Says:

    Mykola, how dare you. Where else are you going to go without a home? You’re saying it’s ok cops came in and beat crowds senseless because they wanted to make the place look nicer? Does that make sense? What the police did was a crime. It’s gone unpunished and as time passes our government is committing more and more (serious) crimes without reprimand. One day when you’re beaten or indefinitely detained I’ll cry my eyes out from laughter.

  3. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    You said ‘they wanted to make the place look nicer’ but I have my doubts that they could. They were homeless alcoholics making the park another Bowery. Crime destroyed the Lower East Side and swept away the Bowery too. But look at the money in those places now…Unbelievable.

  4. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    See EV Grieve for today

    http://evgrieve.com/2009/12/on-this-date-in-1989-in-tompkins-square.html

  5. Nabe News: December 14 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] From the December, 1986 edition of the East Village Eye: “There’s the Ukrainian old men’s area, and the bandshell, used mostly by younger people. There are four different playground areas, divided more or less by age group. And there’s the part where older black men play cards. Tompkins Square is like a mirror held up to our community.” [Ephemeral NY] […]

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