The Scene at St. Mark’s Place and Tompkins Square Park

The Scene at St. Mark’s Place and Tompkins Square Park

St. Mark’s Place was a street that functioned as a major pedestrian thoroughfare to the West Village (it turns into Eighth Street after crossing Third Avenue). The print shop that published the Realist was near Sheridan Square, and Paul Krassner regularly walked there from his loft on Avenue A. “It was just a great feeling to walk along St. Mark’s Place,” he said, “and then Eighth Street to Sheridan Square to deliver stuff to the printer—going back and forth. There was a lot of smoking of marijuana on the streets. It was just a very friendly atmosphere and people would walk along and smile.” Krassner also used to watch the Fugs perform free concerts at the shell stage in Tompkins Square Park, where St. Mark’s Place terminated to the east. Future punk singer Joey Ramone and his younger brother Mickey Leigh (then known as Jeffrey and Mitchel Lee Hyman) occasionally came from Queens to hang out. Off-Off-Broadway performer Agosto Machado would take acid trips with people in that park, where he sometimes slept. “Suburban kids—or ‘weekend hippies,’ that was the new term—populated the area after Bill Graham opened Fillmore East,” Machado said. “That’s when the media and suburban people came and overwhelmed the East Village and Tompkins Square Park. They would say, ‘You are so free. You can live your life the way you want but we can’t.’ They were already branded and enslaved by the ideals of their family, and yet they could admire us, the homeless, who didn’t have anything, because we could do what we want. They thought our struggles were glamorous.”

From Chapter 19 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Tompkins Square Park
E 10th St, New York, NY 10009