Tompkins Square Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:500 East Ninth Street, Manhattan, NY
Hours:6 A.M. to 2 A.M. daily
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: Park Office building, toward northern edge of park
Water/Snacks: Vendors throughout park

Tompkins Square Park has a rich history, is conveniently located near other sites of interest in Lower Manhattan, and provides playgrounds suitable for different ages.

Tompkins Square Park.
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

Tompkins Square Park offers families with children of different ages numerous recreational activities within 10.5 acres. A 20-by-40-foot swimming pool (3 feet deep), fitness equipment, and several playgrounds will appeal to toddlers and older children. This park also boasts an expansive dog run and picnic tables, as well as basketball and handball courts.

Beautifully landscaped and, for the most part, well shaded, the park is located on what was originally marshland and open tidal meadows. Tompkins Square opened as a public space in 1834 and has undergone numerous renovations since then, but it is still home to three Sycamore trees from the original park: two on Tenth Street, and another at Avenue A and Ninth Street.

Begin your walk at the park entrance at Eighth Street and Avenue A. Follow the paths counterclockwise heading east and you will get a sense of the park’s peculiar geography. Due possibly to its central location, particularly before the city fully expanded to the north, Tompkins Square Park served as the site for public demonstrations. Owing to its longtime reputation as a site for civil unrest, the park was redesigned by Robert Moses in 1936 to make it more conducive to crowd management. Visitors today will notice the attractive—yet, at a time, purposeful—wrought-iron fencing separating various areas of the park.

Tompkins Square Park was closed and renovated in the early 1990s, and has since reemerged as a wonderful destination for strolling and recreation.

Remember: Do not climb or sit on the fences. Open-access areas have gates for entrance.

Plan B:

East River Park (Trip 29), three blocks due east, offers longer hikes along the East River, concessions, and more playgrounds to choose from.


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