By James Maher
Name: David Anderson
Occupation: Events Planner
Location: Tompkins Square Park
Time: 1 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 28
I’m originally from Chicago. My father worked for the post office. He was a systems person, and he brought me to New York for the first time when I was 9 years old. In the course of my high school and college years, I would come back and forth and back and forth. I got the opportunity to finish school in 2004 in New York and I never looked back – I just never moved. My degree is from the Art Institute of Chicago, and I did a teaching internship at Pratt for two years.
It’s changed so much. This Park was always really special, because there was a little bit of everything going on down here. This area here in general used to be overgrown. This was like a jungle and no one ever went in that way. It was just sort of an unwritten rule. There was like an open market. You would bring things here, people would sell marijuana here — it was just one of the places to be. It wasn’t quite as civil as the West Village. It was a little naughtier, but it’s amazing to me what they’ve done to it. You wouldn’t recognize it. They cleared out all of it.
I always liked just wandering around here. This is one of the last neighborhoods in Manhattan. This kind of movement, this kind of energy is kind of common in Brooklyn right now, but [not as much] in Manhattan.I’ve lived in two or three places in Manhattan, and then I moved to Brooklyn before moving here a few years ago. It was just so funny when I moved to Brooklyn — I was just like, ‘Okay, yeah, this is it.’ I never ever thought I was going to move back to Manhattan, but now Brooklyn is more expensive than Manhattan.
It’s a homey, family-oriented place. I mean, I bring people here and they’re just like who knew? You go to Midtown, even Harlem now, and it’s just so ridiculously commodified that it’s just not the same space that it once was, but this just holds on and maintains.
But I can’t get over how pricey it is. When I moved, I actually hired a broker and was curious. I said, ‘I want to see something on the Lower East Side, East Village,’ and what is amazing is that a lot of the old railroad apartments, they’re exactly the same. I actually saw a building, up on the second floor, in the center was a bathroom area and the apartments were around it. And now, people are paying like $2,000 for one of those things. It’s like, are you crazy? This used to be the cheapest type of apartment you could find in Manhattan.
I like Crif Dogs, but they’re so expensive now, what are they $5.50? It’s a goddamn hot dog, but it is where it is. It’s really wild, real estate — real estate governs everything. Even in this rag-tag, wild kind of neighborhood, places still have to make the rent.
When I first moved to Brooklyn, I remember sending emails back to Chicago and saying, ‘You know, the most fascinating thing about Brooklyn is that these are people that shouldn’t get along — culturally, historically, they shouldn’t get along, but they’re jammed into this landmass.’ To me, that’s what the city is about — all kinds of demographics coming together. It’s about the people who are here, that are co-existing, that are all in the struggle. It’s the Big Apple — gotta get a bite.
James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.