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Harry’s Last Day in the Park

IMG_7108Timothy J. Stenovec Harry Greenberg retires today after 22 years as the supervisor of Tompkins Square Park.

Harry Greenberg remembers the moment Tompkins Square Park changed.
 It was the winter of 1992, and the Friends of Tompkins Square, a now defunct civic organization, planted a pine tree on the eastern side of the park’s central lawn. In the first of what has become an annual caroling celebration, community members adorned the tree with lights and decorations. If recent history were any indication, that tree and its ornaments should have been stripped down and hocked by the park’s homeless, the fate countless park plants had already suffered.
 But miraculously, the tree—and the decorations—remained, day after day.

“Nobody ripped the lights down, and that’s when you knew people enjoyed it,” Mr. Greenberg said.

Indeed, Tompkins Square Park today is a far cry from the park that Mr. Greenberg found when he arrived here as a fresh-faced parks supervisor in 1988. “I’d have to crawl over people that were sleeping out here with their dogs,” Mr. Greenberg said, describing what it was like to come into his office at five o’clock each morning.
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