Tompkins Square Park
East 7th Street to East 10th Street, Avenue A to Avenue B
Named for Daniel D. Tompkins, Governor of New York (1807-17) and Vice President under James Monroe (1817-25), this park has a long history as a political gathering place. In 1857, immigrants protested unemployment and food shortages. In 1863, it hosted deadly Draft Riots prompted by the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1874, thousands of workers protested unfair conditions in the Tompkins Square Riot. In 1877, the National Guard sparred with 5,000 gatherers for Communist revolutionary speeches. More recently, the park was host to protests against the Vietnam War and for women’s rights in the 1960’s. By the 1980’s, the park had become an epicenter of crime and illegal drug use. In August 1988, after police attempted to clear the park of homeless encampments, a riot broke out and 44 were injured. In 1991, the police department evicted the park’s roughly 150 residents in an early morning raid and closed down the park. As the area has gentrified, this peaceful nook, with its glorious elm trees, recreation facilities and diverse array of festivals, seems a far cry from its tense past.