The Taming of Tompkins Square Park

You know one of the rowdiest corners of the city has calmed down when The Times Real Estate section chooses Tompkins Square Park for their “Living Around…” feature. 

There is barely a mention of the 1988 police riot bearing the park’s name, which made the 10.5-acre greensward briefly famous. Nor the nostalgic crustpunks who still set up there every summer, wishing it were still 1985, aggressively panhandling on nearly every East Village corner. Instead we get this,

“There’s no issues there,” [Community Board 3 district manager Susan] Stetzer said. “We have a big playground that was renovated very, very recently. It’s very nice. The park is well used. We have a rat problem, but so does a lot of the rest of New York City.”

Speaking as a resident rather than as a district manager, she described something bittersweet about having witnessed the slow gentrification of the park. The playgrounds – there are actually three – are shinier and more colorful than when she used to take her son there in the late ’70s and early ’80s. But, she said, they loved the park then, too, and that era had its advantages.

“It was a much stronger, much closer community then,” Ms. Stetzer said. “Everyone knew everyone, and they weren’t necessarily people like you.”

While trying its best to make this nabe seem family friendly, the article does highlight the scarcity of big apartments and good schools.  Largely unmentioned? The largest bar scene in the city. 

Perhaps the article is just part of a stealth campaign to clean up the city’s biggest frat house. By which we mean the East Village.

mchaban [at] | @mc_nyo

The Taming of Tompkins Square Park