At first glance, Tompkins Square Park may not seem as impressive or important as Central Park, Madison Square Park, or some of the other larger grounds in the city, but the area is rich with unique culture, history, and tradition and offers some interesting sights and experiences for both locals and visitors.
The park is located in the Alphabet City between Avenues A
and B and between East 7th and East 10th Street. It was named after Daniel D. Tompkins, the governor of NY from 1807
to 1817 and the VP of the U.S. under President Monroe.
Riots of 1874:
several thousand unemployed workers rallied in the park to demand employment
opportunities. Police used brutal force
to break up the demonstration and were heavily criticized for their actions.
Riots of 1988:
police repeatedly clashed with the many homeless and violent youth who
dominated the park at the time. The police were again criticized for their use
of force and were blamed for inciting riots
The Park Today
The park is famous for its big and little dog runs, two fenced
off playing grounds for the animals. Each Halloween, the park hosts a parade in which a
few hundred costumed dogs gather and are awarded prizes in various categories,
such as Best Costume, Best Dog and Owner Combo, and Best Dog With Kid. According to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreations, it is the largest, non-competitive gathering
of dog owners in the country. Take a look at some of these pictures of the event. You can click for a full size image.
Temperance Statue: a
gift from the rags-to-riches dentist Henry D. Cogswell in
1888. The fountain was created to dispense free water to discourage the
drinking of alcohol. A statue of Hebe, the mythical water carrier, stands at
the center of the structure, and the four sides of the stone canopy above it
are engraved with the words Faith, Hope, Charity, and Temperance.
New Village Music Festival: June 14th (Free)
It was created last year as a free concert for the community to
celebrate music and culture, promote young local artists, and support local
music and performance arts programs that provide children with an alternative
to drugs and alcohol. Several different musical genres are featured, such as Reggae, Latin
Rock, Afro Caribbean Soul, Acoustic Pop Rock and Soul, Hip Hop, and Haitian
Dominican Roots Music.
Cracktöberfest: August 2nd, 3rd (Free)
This is a punk rock concert held every year to
mark the anniversary of the the Tompkins Square Square Riots of 1988.
This year will be the 20th anniversary of the events.
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival: August 24th at 3 p.m (Free)
Parker helped develop the Bebop jazz form and
was arguably the most influential jazz saxophonists of all time. The event involves performances from several
different jazz artists and celebrates the time Parker spent in the East Village.
Howl Festival: September 5 – 7 (Free)
The celebration takes its name from Howl, the famous Allen Ginsberg poem
that is considered to be one of the most significant works of the Beat
Generation, a group of prominent American writers in the 1950’s and 1960’s who
celebrated personal release, spiritual exploration, and a sensory existence of drugs, sex, and music. Largely condemned by both critics and the
public, the writers found strong support in the East Village,
and the festival was created in 2002 to honor the counter-cultural history of
Some notable events during the festival are Art Around the Park, a gathering of
about 140 artists to paint on a giant canvass that will stretch around the
park’s perimeter, and Wigstock, an outdoor drag queen festival. There are also several book fairs, dances, and poetry readings.