How Did FIRST RUN Come To Be?
The name "FIRST RUN" is no accident - our run was the very first official off-leash space in New York City.
In the mid 1980s, before our community had been granted an official space, Tompkins Square Park was a dangerous place suffering from the ill effects of rampant drug use and crime that plagued New York at the time. 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 demand a safe place to gather with their dogs.
Eventually the Parks Department listened. As ex-parks commissioner Henry J. Stern stated, "starting the run was just a good idea."
The Parks Department included one caveat: the run must be managed and FULLY FUNDED by the community (not the city.) The community which fought so hard to make FIRST RUN a reality, raised money and organized volunteers.
Today, even those who have no love for dogs will tell you that FIRST RUN was instrumental in bringing the park back from it's dark days -- providing a center of community renewal that the neighborhood desperately needed. Today, First Run is a source of immense pride and devotion for countless people.
The run was renovated throughout the winter and spring of 2007-2008. It reopened in July of 2008 with new wrought-iron fences to match the historic surroundings of Tompkins Square park. The run has a new paw-friendly surface like beach sand that lies on top of an underground drainage bed to keep the surface a dry and healthy place.
The Tompkins Square dog park is one of the largest runs in Manhattan featuring a large and small dog area, a sun deck, running water throughout the park and 3 swimming pools. There is a memorial sculpture where owners can place the tags of their departed pets. The run is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year from 6 a.m. to midnight. The dog run is located along the 9th street path in Tompkins Square park, between Avenue A & B.