Fri, 10 January 2014
Central Park has frequently been called 'the people's park," but we think Tompkins Square Park may have a better claim to that title. From its inception, this East Village recreational spot -- named for Vice President Daniel D Tompkins -- has catered to those who might not have felt welcome in other New York parks.
Carved from the marshy area of Peter Stuyvesant's old farm, Tompkins Square immediately reflected the personality of German immigrants who moved here, calling it Der Weisse Garten. With large immgratns groups came rallies and demands for improved working conditions, leading to more than a number of altercations with the police in the 19th century.
Progressives introduced playgrounds here, and Robert Moses changed the very shape of Tompkins Square. But the most radical transformation here took place starting in the late 1950s, with the introduction of 'hippie' culture and infusion of youth and music. By the 1980s, the park became known not only for embodying the spirit of the East Village through punk music and drag shows, but also as a haven for the homeless. Clashes with police echoed the altercation that happened here one century before. The park still maintains a curfew left over from the strife of the late 1980s.
FEATURING: Lillian Wald, the Grateful Dead, Charlie Parker, Lady Bunny ... and Chevy Chase?