Dog Run Review: Tompkins Square Park
The First Run
To kick off our reviews of dog friendly parks and dog runs throughout the city, we’re starting, appropriately enough, with New York City’s first dog run: Tompkins Square Park.
This run is located on the northern side of the park, which is located between Avenue A and Avenue B, and from East 7th to East 10th Streets. As dog runs go, it’s one of the larger ones I’ve visited. It’s generally very clean, but like most runs with gravel, it can get dusty and a little stinky at times, especially during warmer weather. It’s broken up into two areas: one for larger dogs and one for smaller dogs. It has multiple entrances, water features in the warm months, drinking water inside the run, and plenty of shade.
Bodhi and I have visited many times and have never encountered any unfriendly people or dogs (Anyone who knows anything about dog runs knows that they all have their fair share of … um … opinionated … dog owners.) I like it because of its size: Bodhi gets to run around. I also like it because we always find lots of large dogs there for Bodhi to roughhouse with. And since it’s smack-dab in the middle of the East Village, there’s plenty to see and do nearby.
Here’s a video of the park from a dog’s-eye view taken with the Bodhi-Cam. You’ll get a really good sense of how big it is and how friendly the dogs and people are.
The Friends of First Run provide this bit of history:
In the mid 1980s, before the community had been granted an official dog run, Tompkins Square Park was a dangerous place suffering from the ill effects of rampant drug use and crime that plagued New York. The founders of First Run were not willing to give up their place in the park and fought the perils of the day — and City Hall! — to establish a safe place to gather with their dogs. The city’s first dog run was opened in 1990 as part of the renovation of Tompkins Square park. As ex-parks commissioner Henry Stern stated, “starting the run was just a good idea.” The Parks Department included one caveat: the run must be managed and funded by the community (not the city.) Dog owners who fought so hard to make First Run a reality, raised money and organized volunteers.
The Tompkins Square Park dog run is definitely a popular place. It was one of the finalists in Curbed’s Best Dog Park contest.
It’s also featured prominently in Benoit Denizet-Lewis’ book Travels with Casey: My Journey Through Our Dog-Crazy Country. You can read a lengthy excerpt here.
It’s also the site of the extremely popular Tompkins Square Dog Halloween Dog Parade. Check out my October 26 2014 post to see pics I took at the parade; here’s a teaser photo below.