Tompkins Square Park

E. 7th St. and Ave. A

From the City of New York/Parks & Recreation Historical Signs Program: This park honors Daniel D. Tompkins (1774–1825), who served as Governor of New York from 1807 to 1817 and as Vice President of the United States under James Monroe (1758-1831) ... more

From the City of New York/Parks & Recreation Historical Signs Program: This park honors Daniel D. Tompkins (1774–1825), who served as Governor of New York from 1807 to 1817 and as Vice President of the United States under James Monroe (1758-1831) from 1817 to 1825. Peter Stuyvesant (1610–1672), director general of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, owned this property during the 17th century. Tompkins later acquired it, and by the 19th century, it was marked for development as a public square. The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 proposed a large market on this land stretching from First Avenue to the East River, but plans for the market never materialized. Bordered today by Avenues A and B, and 7th and 10th Streets, Tompkins Square Park was acquired by the City in 1834. Originally swampland, this site was graded and landscaped between 1835 and 1850. In 1866, the New York State Legislature ordered the City to remove a number of trees that had been planted at the time of the park’s creation to allow for an open parade ground for the Seventh Regiment of New York. A few Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) trees were spared, and of those, three survived to the present day. Believed to ... more

From the City of New York/Parks & Recreation Historical Signs Program:

This park honors Daniel D. Tompkins (1774–1825), who served as Governor of New York from 1807 to 1817 and as Vice President of the United States under James Monroe (1758-1831) from 1817 to 1825. Peter Stuyvesant (1610–1672), director general of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, owned this property during the 17th century. Tompkins later acquired it, and by the 19th century, it was marked for development as a public square.

The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 proposed a large market on this land stretching from First Avenue to the East River, but plans for the market never materialized. Bordered today by Avenues A and B, and 7th and 10th Streets, Tompkins Square Park was acquired by the City in 1834. Originally swampland, this site was graded and landscaped between 1835 and 1850. In 1866, the New York State Legislature ordered the City to remove a number of trees that had been planted at the time of the park’s creation to allow for an open parade ground for the Seventh Regiment of New York. A few Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) trees were spared, and of those, three survived to the present day. Believed to be the oldest trees in the park, two of the Sycamores can be found along 10th Street and the other is located on Avenue A at 9th Street.

The New York State Legislature, bowing to pressure from city residents, redesignated the square as a public park in 1878, and it was redesigned the following year. Approximately 450 trees were planted and many of those remain in the park today. Species include Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), American elm (Ulmus americana), and Oriental plane (Platanus orientalis).

The park is home to several monuments, including the Temperance Memorial Fountain (1888), the Samuel S. Cox monument (1891), the Slocum Memorial Fountain (1906), several memorial plaques, and the Ukrainian-American Flagstaff (1942), which was donated by the Ukrainian Production Unit of the American Red Cross. A playground for girls was built in 1904, and in 1911, 10,000 people came here to witness the City’s first inter-park athletic championships. Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888–1981) expanded recreation opportunities in the park in the 1930s, adding handball courts and swing sets. A bandshell was completed in 1966 in time for frequent concerts and rallies, which characterized that period in history.

Since its beginnings in the 19th century, Tompkins Square Park has served as a place to voice dissent. Demonstrations in 1857 and 1875 about the lack of jobs and the poor economy gave way to local residents’ protests about gentrification in the 1980s and 1990s. In the late 1980s, police and East Village residents clashed after Parks began enforcing the park’s closing hours, in effect barring homeless from camping in the park. In 1991 the park was closed and dozens of homeless people who had been living in the park were relocated.

The park was reconstructed and reopened in the summer of 1992. During this renovation, the bandshell was removed, a state-of-the-art dog run and new playgrounds were built, several monuments conserved, and the turf and sidewalks replaced. Today Tompkins Square Park continues to serve a diverse community, providing a peaceful, meditative environment within the bustle of city life.


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East Village Description

Tompkins Square Park is located in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. Long before the musical "Rent" brought in legions of pierced, tattooed teenagers from every corner of America (and drove up the rents), the East Village was an eclectic mix of elderly Ukranians and Poles, Dominican and Puerto Rican families, and assorted artists, wanna-be bohemians, punks, their followers, lovers and friends. (Did we leave anyone out?) Largely gone are the heroin dealers, all night parties, punk music extravaganzas and infamous Bagel Tree of the 1980s and early 1990s, but the real landmarks remain, including the Joseph Papp Public Theater, Tompkins Square Park, and Cooper Union. The Public offers some of New York’s finest Off-Broadway Theater as well as Joe’s Pub, with a diverse variety of live shows. Beautiful Tompkins Square Park offers something for everyone, including dog runs, basketball courts, a weekly market, outdoor music events, and occasionally local characters chatting late into the night to infrequent riots. To be fair, few other parks in America have played such an important role in radical or anarchist history.

Many long-time residents complain of the neighborhood’s recent gentrification, and skyrocketing rents forced even legendary punk club CBGB's to exit the neighborhood, replaced by a John Varvatos boutique. And while there are truly many new restaurants and boutiques dotting Avenues A, B and C, lots of the famous watering holes, dives, and other unclassifiably scrappy bars remain. Some of our favorites include Mars on lower First Avenue, Zum Schneider on Avenue C, 2A on the corner of Second Street and Avenue A, and Lit Lounge, with its adjoining Fuse Gallery. Make sure to check out the Polish butcher stores on First Avenue and the nearby Italian pastry shops, walk along the Ukranian strip of Second Avenue, try one of the Japanese restaurants on East Ninth Street, and also walk along St. Marks Place, one of New York’s most eclectic streets.

East 4th Street's Theater Row boasts cultural buildings which house eight theaters and twelve dance companies as well as a couple of community development groups. Among its members are New York Theater Workshop, La MaMa Experimental Theatre, Rod Rodgers Dance Co., WOW Cafe Theatre, Millennium Film Workshop, Duo Multicultural Arts Center, Teatro Circulo, Downtown Art, Alpha Omega Dance Co., Choices Theater, Teatro IATI, Cooper Square Committee and Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association.

The Nuyorican Poets Café is still going strong on East Third Street between Avenues B and C. Since 1973 its mission has been to create a multi-cultural venue that provides a stage for artists traditionally underrepresented in the mainstream media and culture. Poetry slams, theater performances, open jam sessions for hip-hop, poetry and jazz, as well as unique screenplay readings all take place on a weekly basis in this intimate cultural setting.

For film buffs, we would be remiss not to mention the Anthology Film Archives on East 2nd Street, a local theater best known for consistently showing the finest in avant-garde and experimental cinema. We also recommend the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on East Houston Street, home away from home for those who enjoy great acoustics and the company of die hard independent film fans.

The East Village is also home to the trendy Cooper Square Hotel as well as the charming Gem Hotel, making it a great neighborhood to enjoy your stay in New York.

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Info

E. 7th St. and Ave. A
New York, NY 10009
(212) 408-0100

Editorial Rating

Admission And Tickets

Free

This Week's Hours

Dawn - 1:00am

Nearby Subway

  • to 1st Ave -- 0.6

Upcoming Events

Tompkins Square Greenmarket

Weekly, year-round greenmarket in Tompkins Square.

05/26/2019 08:00 AM
Sun, May 26
8:00AM
$
Free

Tompkins Square Greenmarket

Weekly, year-round greenmarket in Tompkins Square.

06/02/2019 08:00 AM
Sun, June 02
8:00AM
$
Free

Tompkins Square Greenmarket

Weekly, year-round greenmarket in Tompkins Square.

06/09/2019 08:00 AM
Sun, June 09
8:00AM
$
Free

Tompkins Square Greenmarket

Weekly, year-round greenmarket in Tompkins Square.

06/16/2019 08:00 AM
Sun, June 16
8:00AM
$
Free
View All Upcoming Events

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