Is Union Square Park the Hot New Druggy Crime Spot?


The New York Post has an old-fashioned “Isn’t NYC going to hell?”-type piece today regarding Union Square Park, a/k/a, “Methadone Alley,” a “lawless city within a city” filled with addicts and pervs and criminals. Specifically, they’re talking about the path on the East Side of the park that’s lined with benches (and sometimes people, sometimes who are rather fucked up). The Post says all these drug-addled humans have come from the drug clinics around the park to do their awful things, like stab people or say ugly things to children or expose themselves or pass out or steal. (Some of those things are admittedly problematic.)

But the piece smacks of sensationalism, so we have to ask: Is Union Square any worse than any other park in the city? Or is it simply a place we’ve all heard of, and probably been, that can symbolize the outrage? Cops have reportedly made 84 drug-related arrests in and around the park this year. But that’s hardly a return to the bad old edgy days that many of us can’t stop bemoaning the loss of, even if it is worse than recent years. (Someone did steal Gandhi’s glasses. WTF?)

The Post talks to several people ranging from a city park advocate (the originator of that “lawless city” quote; he also calls it a horror show) to a preschool teacher who says it’s “a little shady at times,” to a woman with a dog who dubs it “horrendous” but says it’s also New York and “you deal with it.”

At the end of the day, after all the scary quotes and stats, the Post says that the NYPD will step up patrols and off-duty officers will be hired by the people who run the park. Problem solved, or, at least, there’s your Band-Aid. So, how’s Tompkins Square Park looking these days, anyway?

Union Square Park sees spike in drug use, petty crimes [NYP]