Note: this photo was published in an Apr 14, 2010 EveryBlock New York City zipcode block titled "10009." It was also published in a Sep 16, 2010 blog titled "Free Wi-Fi Coming To NYC Parks Is Basically Worthless."
Moving into 2011, the photo was published in an undated (early Jan 2011) "Mr. Blues Guy" blog, as an illustration of a song titled "Slash-fiction blues." It was also published in a Jun 13, 2011 blog titled "Lleva tu oficina siempre contigo." It was also published in a Jul 30, 2011 blog titled "CROWDSOURCING CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT." And it was published in an Aug 27, 2011 blog titled "Is Facebook Bumming You Out?" It was also published in an Oct 11, 2011 blog titled "Creating Secure Passwords That Are Easy to Remember." And it was published in a Dec 20, 2011 blog titled "Facebook's New App Might Help Lower Suicide Rate."
Moving into 2013, the photo was published in a Jul 16, 2013 blog titled "New York City Offers Free Wi-Fi in 32 More Parks With Purpose-Defeating 10-Minute Limit" as well as a Jul 23, 2013 blog titled "وب سایت شما هم تاثیری در کسب و کارتان."
Ever since I first arrived in New York City in the late 60s, I've known that the "scene" in the East Village was centered in St. Marks Place and Tompkins Square; that's where you went to find the music, the hippies, the drugs, the homeless people, and the excitement ... and, quite often, the cops and the folks that you'd just as soon not encounter after dark. But despite having ridden and driven past the park numerous times, I never actually spent any time there; so, in the spirit of checking out my long list of unexplored spots in the Big Apple, I decided to spend an hour or two in the park this past weekend.
While I knew that Tompkins Square Park had maintained a certain level of notoriety since the 60s, I didn't realize that its "activist" roots went back much further. Opened in 1850 and named after Daniel Tompkins -- a Vice President under James Monroe, and the governor of New York from 1808-1817 -- the park was the scene of the deadly 1863 Draft Riots during the Civil War, and was the scene of attacks, in 1857, by the police on immigrants protesting unemployment and food shortages. It was also the scene of the "Tompkins Square Riot" in 1874, when police crushed a demonstration involving several thousand workers; and the scene of a squabble with the National Guard in 1877 when 5,000 people gathered to hear Communist revolutionary speeches.
Well, all of that is past -- and even the riot of August 1988, when 44 people were injured when police attempted to clear the park of homeless people, seems lost in dim memories. Today, the park is clean and friendly, with lots of children, families, and people with dogs wandering its pathways and stretching out on the large grassy areas. At the same time, I found that it lacked the energy, the vitality, and the hard-to-define "buzz" that I've felt in other parks around the city. There were no musicians, no artists, no jugglers, no mimes, no fountains with children splashing in the water. There was a guy making some kind of religious speech on a loudspeaker, but most people ignored him; the only comment I heard was a loud, grouchy, "Aw, shut up!" from someone passing by. There were a couple of chess games underway at the entrance on 7th Street and Avenue "A," but even those seemed somewhat listless and lackluster...
Maybe I just picked the wrong weekend; it turns out, for example, that the French Embassy and the NYC Department of Parks sponsor a free outdoor French film festival at sunset on Friday nights in June and July. And then there's the Halloween party (in October, obviously, not in April), which boasts an annual attendance of 2,000 spectators and 400 costumed dogs (all of which is part of a fundraiser to maintain the large dog run in one corner of the park).
But while I was here, I wandered around and took a couple hundred photos of the people who seemed most interesting ... from which I chose 20 that seemed worthy of uploading to Flickr. That's what you'll find in this set.