Return to Tent City: The mother of all occupations

At last weekend’s punk rock concerts marking the Tompkins Square Park riot’s 24th anniversary, one longtime East Villager could be overheard saying, “Occupy Wall Street, they held Zuccotti Park for two months. We occupied Tompkins Square Park for three years!” Clayton Patterson was among the local photographers who documented the homeless park scene, including these shots, from 1989. Clockwise, from top left, the Tent City Crew; a shelter constructed with the help of a children’s jungle gym; a Palm Sunday service at the soon-to-be demolished band shell, inside which homeless people slept; a Tent City resident out cold on a cot during the day. The Tent City crew were the main organizers of the park’s homeless encampment. “They were in the northwest corner of the park,” Patterson said. “They kept things functioning and they were the main people that you dealt with when issues would come up with the homeless and the park.”  —  Photos by Clayton Patterson