The Destroy It to Save It Plan for East River Park

New York Magazine: Eileen myles, the poet and novelist and East Village literary figure, winner of a Guggenheim and author of the cult classic Chelsea Girls, first heard the city was planning to demolish East River Park last September. The reason given was flood protection. The area had been devastated by Hurricane Sandy. But Myles was incredulous and got in touch with a group of activists working to save the park. Myles had never really liked activism—“I never have the impulse to pick up a bullhorn in front of a crowd, and the only thing I hate more is seeing other people do it,” they told me—but this was different. This was their park.

Myles began to make noise, research the situation, and email everyone they knew. So it was that, on an unseasonably warm December day, I met Myles and a small group of activists from East River Park Action, or erpa, at the park’s Corlears Hook entrance. What I found as we walked through the park was an untrammeled piece of Old New York. We started at the giant compost yard near Corlears Hook, the largest food-scrap compost in the city, operated by the Lower East Side Ecology Center since 1998. We passed the historic amphitheater where Joseph Papp staged Julius Caesar in 1956 before moving the production uptown, where it became Shakespeare in the Park. We walked under the Williamsburg Bridge, where a few people were fishing, and up to the track where Myles liked to jog. The East River glittered in the sun. The park was ramshackle—and people loved it. Read more>>