It's likely that any New Yorker who remembers the city before the great Giuliani/Disney sanitation sweep will have a tale or two about Tompkins Square Park. Although it’s come a long way and now functions as a respectable (even pretty) neighborhood park, it wears the patina of a world-weary New York institution. Named after New York governor Daniel Tompkins, who freed local slaves in the 1820s, the park began as a 19th century market. Drug dealers and homeless squatters took over the park in the ‘70s and their eviction came only after a violent riot in 1988. Tompkins Square Park has since calmed down considerably, transitioning into a mellow public spot as Alphabet City has gentrified around it. The park borders are blooming with restaurants, bars and shops; renovated basketball courts, playgrounds, plentiful benches, excellent dog runs and fountains make the area family-friendly. Those who yearn for gritty, old New York can take heart, though: the terrain may have changed, but many of the faces remain the same. The people-watching here doesn’t disappoint.Charlie Parker’s House
Located on the east side of the park is the building the famous saxophonist called home from 1950–1954.
One of the best in the city and one of the few green spaces in the area where the local punks and hipsters alike can walk their trendy pooches.