View Full Version : East Village area

January 20th, 2005, 10:38 AM
Here I am asking again about certain areas that we´re thinkin of staying while we are in NYC. The studio is on 7th street between Ave. B & C, right beside Tompkins's Square Park, is that area nice? And again thank you all for your help!!

January 20th, 2005, 11:17 AM
Yes, that area is nice.

January 22nd, 2005, 01:21 PM

Tompkins Square plays the same role in the East Village that Washington Square does in Greenwich Village: oasis of green. But Tompkins Square is a bit bigger than Washington Square, and is actually a square in proportion. Like Washington Square it's surrounded by predominantly residential low-rise structures, though Tompkins’ mix of apartment buildings, tenements and houses is less elegant than the gracious five-story Greek Revival townhouses that give Washington Square much of its character.

As it’s a fair spell from the nearest subway, Tompkins Square feels off the beaten track, and even most New Yorkers never venture there. Nevertheless it’s heavily used as a community park and meeting place: full of children and dogs. It’s also a convenient diagonal shortcut for pedestrians.

Tompkins Square used to be run down and dangerous, but the usual cycle of artist- and bohemian-spearheaded gentrification has left it a desirable and expensive area with a very strong low-rise neighborhood character. Its population remains quite diverse: yuppies, bohemians, musicians, artists, hipsters, Ukrainians, old folks, Jews—and there is even a curious street lined with Indian restaurants. The urban pioneers of gentrification have settled in and –naturally—they’re now NIMBYs hell-bent on keeping out the high rises that would make so much business sense and that would relieve the tremendous expense of living here.

The drug dealers are largely gone, but the adjacent commercial streets retain a counter-culture aura; this is New York’s Haight-Ashbury. The Jersey teens who once frequented Bleecker Street on weekends now flock to St. Mark’s Place. In fact it’s a kind of youth culture mecca for kids from the whole country.

There are still some galleries and lots of places for fringe music and performance. One of these days the endlessly-delayed Second Avenue subway will bring Tompkins Square-- and the East Village generally—more into the mainstream of Manhattan venues; meantime it remains a charming backwater.


August 2nd, 2008, 01:11 PM
East Village Journal

20 Years After Unrest, Class Tensions Have Faded and Punk Rock Will Be Played

By COLIN MOYNIHAN (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/colin_moynihan/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: August 2, 2008

The traditional gift for a 20th anniversary is something made of china. But this weekend, a moment from early August 1988 will be marked by bands with names like Team Spider, Leftöver Crack and Death Mold.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/08/02/nyregion/02tompkins02_650.jpgÁngel Franco/The New York Times
East Village neighbors confronted police officers in Tompkins Square Park on Aug. 6, 1988, to protest a 1 a.m. curfew.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/08/02/nyregion/02tompkins_190.jpg James Estrin/The New York Times
Twenty years ago, police officers kept an eye on Jerry Wade.

That moment, branded ever since as the Tompkins Square riot, began on a steamy Saturday night as a demonstration against a park curfew. But it quickly turned into a melee between protesters and police officers that lasted until dawn.

“It was one of the most exciting nights of my life,” said Jerry Wade, a squatter who helped lead the protests. Mr. Wade, known as Jerry the Peddler, is also organizing some of the commemorative events this weekend, which besides punk rock concerts include speeches and demonstrations scheduled to take place in or near the park, precisely the sort of events that irked some of the people living around it 20 years ago.

The confrontation over the 1 a.m. park curfew was fueled by concerns over issues including homelessness, gentrification and the future of the neighborhood. Squatters, artists, landlords, blue-collar families, merchants and young professionals all existed within blocks of the park. Tensions were heightened by the perception that newer and richer residents were displacing others with less money or political power.

To some East Village residents, the park had become a festering wound of drug use, homeless encampments and all-night music and parties.

Responding to these complaints, the local community board voted to impose the curfew.

“They hung out in the park all night with drinking and music galore,” said Philip C. LaLumia, a community board member. “They called it music; we called it noise.”

On the night of Aug. 6, more than 100 people showed up at the park to protest the curfew, drinking beer, lighting firecrackers and carrying banners with slogans like “Gentrification is Class War.” Dozens of officers watched on foot and horseback, and around 12:30 a.m., some in the crowd began throwing bottles at the police.

From then until sunrise, officers battled with the crowd in and around the park, with the protesters hurling bottles and other debris, and the police using nightsticks and riot gear. Forty-four people were injured, 13 of them police officers.

A videographer, Clayton Patterson, captured police officers, some of whom removed or covered their badges and nameplates, severely beating protesters and passers-by. One onlooker was Robert Arihood, who said he was attacked several times by the police. For him, the looming anniversary and attending fanfare was stirring up uneasy memories of lying injured and motionless on Avenue A as officers taunted him. “I couldn’t move,” he said. “I thought I was going to die.”

Benjamin Ward, then the police commissioner, sharply criticized his force for losing control. Some commanders were reprimanded or forced into retirement; 14 officers were tried on brutality charges but none were convicted.

Twenty years later, the melee is both a cherished memory and a scar, with the protesters seen as either the romantic defenders of a losing cause or merely a collection of hooligans.

Most agree that the battle to keep the East Village affordable is now down to its last gasps. Studio apartments in the neighborhood now rent for about $2,000.

“The mythology that was created by the resistance of the neighborhood was marketed,” said Paul DeRienzo, a radio reporter who broadcast for WBAI from Avenue A in 1988 as sirens and screams sounded in the background. “By the early ’90s the East Village was considered a hip place to live.”

A local underground newspaper called The Shadow, which is sponsoring the concerts, is also assembling a special issue dedicated to stories of the conflict that will include an essay by Mr. Wade about how he helped coin a phrase that includes the words “our park” with a profane adjective separating them.

Another neighborhood paper, The Villager, published an essay by Bobby Steele, a musician who performed with the Misfits, criticizing another popular slogan of the day — Die, Yuppie scum — as hate speech.

That phrase and others have recently resurfaced on fliers wheat-pasted to lampposts and light poles. There are also fliers bearing an image of a winged bottle emblazoned with an anarchist symbol and the words “fly high” and “hit hard,” which became widespread in the years after the melee.

Slogans aside, a replay of 1988 seems unlikely. Organizers followed city rules and secured permits for the Saturday and Sunday concerts, which will both be over before nightfall.

These days the park’s curfew is one hour earlier, but it is rarely a source of controversy.

As midnight came and went on Thursday, residents quietly walked their dogs through the darkness, and a man and woman played Frisbee where the band shell, the park’s center of gravity, once stood. No police officers turned up to kick out the curfew-breakers.

A half-dozen people interviewed there said they knew nothing about the events of Aug. 6 and 7, 1988. But four people sitting on a bench beneath the spreading limbs of an elm tree said they had heard of the melee, even though three of them had not even been born. The group was quietly sipping from 22-ounce bottles of Guinness and discussing the previous weekend’s punk rock show in the park when mention of the curfew drew familiar objections.

“We want to enjoy our park,” said Angela Phillips, 19. “We want to be out here all night.”


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