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Tompkins Square Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, June 18, 2001

TRAGEDY REMEMBERED IN TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK


On its final trip, the excursion steamer, the General Slocum, was bound for Locust Grove, Long Island. 1,300 passengers, almost all of them women and children, were headed to the annual church picnic of St. Mark's Church. It was a neighborhood church located at Second Avenue and 6th Street in the heart of "kleindeutschland" or Little Germany. When a fire broke out in the tumultuous Hell's Gate narrows, 1,021 passengers perished. This year, the 97th anniversary of the disaster, the East Village is full of life and activity. In the midst of it, Parkies, historians, firefighters, community members, and the descendents of those who survived the fire recalled the neighborhood's historic loss on Friday, June 15 in a ceremony in Tompkins Square Park, organized by the Maritime Industry Museum. Betty Reilly, the daughter of Catherine Connelly, who experienced the fire as a girl, spoke movingly about the impact of the tragedy on her family. Ms. Connelly, 108, was unable to attend the ceremony.

In 1906 the Slocum Memorial Fountain was dedicated in Tompkins Square Park. The youngest survivor, Adella Wotherspoon, unveiled the monument-9 feet tall and constructed of pink marble in the shape of a gravestone for the 61 unidentified dead. Ms. Wotherspoon returned when Parks rededicated the memorial in 1991 after renovating it.

Accounts of the disaster tell that the band played even as the boat burned around them. A woman delivered birth on deck, and passengers jumped overboard by the hundreds. Emergency medical care was delivered off the coast of Queens. The captain of the Slocum was tried and convicted of negligence. He served the first three years of his sentence at Sing Sing until William Howard Taft exercised his presidential right to grant a pardon in response to a petition of some 250,000 signatures.

CENTRAL PARK SUMMERSTAGE BEGINS

Central Park SummerStage opened its season with a dance show on Friday, June 15. Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre performed La Mezcla, a piece commissioned by SummerStage. Headliners Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba, 30 dancers and musicians, made their North American debut, performing the Spanish and Cuban folk dance for which they are known. They also premiered pieces of their work Fuerza Y Compas to great enthusiasm from the packed crowd. The next free SummerStage performance is Sunday, June 24, at 3:00 p.m. For a full schedule of performances, visit www.SummerStage.org.

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT
(Monday, June 20, 1988)

CENTRAL PARK SUMMERSTAGE OPENS

The third season of SummerStage opened on a good note Friday night at the Central Park Bandshell. The evening began in perfect harmony with a crowd of 1,500 and performances by the American Tap Dance Orchestra, saxophonist Lenny Pickett and the R&B a capella group "The Persuasions." Central Park Administrator Elizabeth Barlow Rogers and Commissioner Stern read a special proclamation from Mayor Koch, officially declaring the beginning of SummerStage.

The free SummerStage performance series is primarily funded this year with a $200,000 gift from Tropicana Products, Inc. It is presented by Parks and the Central Park Conservancy. This year more ears than ever will hear SummerStage as WNYC-FM (94.1), New York's public radio station, will broadcast seven of the concerts to the New York radio audience and the entire National Public Radio network.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"A sonnet is a moment's monument."

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

Directions to Tompkins Square Park

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Tompkins Square Park Weather

  • Sun
    Showers
    52°F
  • Mon
    Mostly Sunny
    45°F
  • Tue
    Slight Chc Snow
    35°F
  • Wed
    Mostly Sunny
    34°F

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