Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tompkins Square Park

This photo essay by Q. Sakamaki is a stunning portrait of Tompkins Square Park a mere 20-ish years ago. Time fades memories, and the scrubby clean park we know today has surpassed the reality that existed not that long ago in our collective memories, with the only real relics now living in the southeast corner by the chess tables. Looking at these photos, we can remember what it was like and take an historic view of the park and the neighborhood that once was.

Twenty years after the August 6th riot, the park now boasts one of the best dog runs in New York City; the Lower East Side lost much of its diversity, and instead it has become one of the city’s most expensive, theme-park-lilke entertainment districts, as one can easily find in other big towns in US. However, for people hooked on the Lower East Side during the radical protest era, or even for some of the newcomers and outsiders, the Tompkins Square resistance to defend housing rights and human rights as well as diverse lifestyles remains as a significant historical legacy.

Some slightly different photos from the same photographer in a NY Times slideshow.

The book appears to be out of print, though I saw a copy for sale on ebay, and on backorder at Powells.


East Village Feed said...

It's an excellent book - my girlfriend found me a copy from Strand. Mostly photos - but really great stuff.

Goggla said...

Those are some excellent photos. Looking around today, you might have no idea what the neighborhood was like not so long ago.

And, I meant to thank you for pointing me to the book of East Village gardens. I bought the book, met the author, and have been enjoying the personal notes from the people who describe so vividly turning a forsaken neighborhood into a real home.

Jill said...

Gogg - The writer did mention to me that you had contacted her. My schedule made it difficult to meet up with her so she brought some over to St. Marks Books so I could buy it there. The histories of some of the gardens are surprising, not what I expected in so many cases. The one on 12th Street that was a "gift" from Union Carbine was particularly weird.