TOSQ-1001: Intro to Tompkins Square Park

Quartersnacks would like to welcome the NYU, SVA, New School, and Pratt classes of 2015 to the great city of New York, and to the most legendary skate spot of modern time, Tompkins Square Park. We wish you luck in your studies, many lifelong friendships, and an education that will lead to a bright and prosperous future, not a life defined by student loan debt and the mercy of tourists’ tipping etiquette at the restaurant you may be stuck working at five years from now, provided the recent graduate (un)employment rate maintains its current pattern.

But as you pursue your dreams in this city, you should be careful not to impede on the dreams of those who came before you — those who merely dream of maintaining a T.F. governed by order. As with every batch of freshmen who arrive in this city, September is a month when the structural fabric of Tompkins is truly tested. Recent transplants impose their own north-south routes, with little regard for the longstanding invisible lanes that exist in this holiest of baseball diamonds. Start points for flatground are disregarded, and end points are never reached. Chaos soon begins.

Strangely enough, for a place associated with alcoholism and dependence on marijuana, Tompkins has a very good memory. Those with poor T.F. etiquette are rarely forgotten, and seldom afforded the luxuries that coincide with civilized New York City skateboard society. A small window for T.F. acceptance exists, and mistakes are often irreversible. If you fail to make the proper impression, well, you may as well never leave Brooklyn again.

You are in luck if you became aware of Quartersnacks before ruining your chances of obtaining Tompkins’ forrest-green-painted embrace. Below is the ultimate guide to help you avoid becoming ostracized from the T.F. The list of exiles is already far too long. Remember our gesture next time you start ranting about New York skateboarders being assholes…

The most crucial rule of the T.F. is: The lanes run from EAST TO WEST. Not north to south. Skating flat at Tompkins from north to south is a surefire way to become a persona non grata in New York skateboarding. (The one exception is the auxiliary route, explained below.)

Flow of Traffic 1: Reserved for skating flat. The lane spans from the benches until ten feet past the painted portion of the baseball diamond. This lane is directly in front of the benches, so the skateboarding that occurs in this portion is subject to the harshest of criticisms, given its visibility.

Flow of Traffic 2: Reserved for skating the box. When people are too lazy to drag the box to the park, lanes one and two merge, and “a four-lane highway becomes a two-lane comfort cruise.”

Flow of Traffic 3: Reserved for flat-skaters not looking to be in the spotlight, or subject to the same level of criticism as lanes one and two. Recommended for recent transplants, out-of-towners, or if it’s one of your first ten visits to Tompkins. Lane three faces the dugout benches, which are typically used by sixteen-year-olds for rolling marijuana, and thus not a center of discourse on skateboarding. You can push mongo, do pressure flips, mob your kickflips, drag your foot, pick your nose, etc., and nobody will notice. The main drawback is that you may occasionally share this space with confused Union Square skateboarders who find themselves awake before the sun sets.

Auxiliary Route: The auxiliary route is a temporary getaway from the three main lanes in the event of a tantrum sparked by not being able to do a trick. For example, say you cannot nollie flip after five tries, or you are embarrassed after landing primo on your first kickflip of the day, it is permissible to skate on the cement portion BEHIND the painted region of the diamond from north to south, provided that this route is used for no more than two minutes. It is to be treated as a brief, invisible safe haven to quickly relearn any essential maneuvers before returning to the east-west lanes. Attempting to skate the auxiliary route for more than two minutes is frowned upon.

As this is an introductory course, you should familiarize yourself with the various amenities available around the T.F., so as to not foolishly inquire into the obvious.

A. The Benches: The governing body of the T.F. The benches are intended for two people, but can often fit three. Do not attempt to be the third person on a bench containing two people who you do not know, as this will be treated as an invasion of privacy.

B. The Tree/Smokers’ Lounge: It is not considered the best of looks to be over eighteen and smoking weed under this tree. It is also still up for debate as to whether or not the tree makes the weed smokers below it invisible to law enforcement detection. Many assume it does.

C. The Crack: The most prominent crack in the park. Make sure to time your flip tricks before it, as falling victim to it is a blatant rookie mistake.

D. Tompkins Square Park Deli: The closest place to obtain beverages.

E. Mamani’s: The closest place to obtain dollar slices and diarrhea.

F. San Loco: The closest place to obtain “Mexican” food and diarrhea. As awful as Taco Bell, except slightly more expensive and serves alcohol. (Note: It is somewhat acceptable to be from California and complain about New York’s Mexican food, but if you are using San Loco as your point of reference, you will come off looking like an idiot.)

G. Paulgar/Autumn: The closest place to purchase hard goods, the latest video, ask stupid questions, and propose absurd trades like “Can I trade these size 12 lime green Fallen shoes for five or six bearings and the Real video?” Keep in mind that if you’re too old to be smoking weed under a tree, you’re too old to be asking for “drop offs.”

H. The Public Bathroom at Tompkins Square Park: Don’t go in here. Urinate on the street, urinate behind the weed tree, buy a soda just so you can use some place’s bathroom, get a public urination summons, piss your pants, do anything else but walk in here. Someone is probably going to say “It smells, but it’s not that bad,” but they haven’t seen this place at its worst…

I. Nino’s Pizza: Though it’s far from great pizza, if you make an excess of $50 a week, it’s worth the extra $1.50 to avoid the dollar slices and stomach pains from Mamani’s.

That’s it. Follow these rules and you will be greeted with open arms. Your tricks will be complimented, people will buy you drinks, give you free gear, you’ll learn switch 360 flips, you’ll graduate with a 4.0, land a six-figure job, marry the girl of your dreams, and have three healthy children.


  1. don’t spend much time at the TF. but i some how assumed one figured out all these rules by just being there for like 2 minutes.. good for a refresher course though.

  2. You’d be amazed just how rampant the disregard for structured society is there.

    Improper skating of the T.F. has been linked to the global economic downturn, among other things.

  3. This is one of the best things I have ever read. Thank you QS. I will be making the pilgrimage to the T.F. within the next two years.

  4. Aren’t you a part of society? Because if you don’t want to be a part of society, Jerry, why don’t you just get in your car and move to the East Side!

  5. In addition to the skateboard personalities of the TF, there are also some strange & often forgotten distant satellites, like the she-kickboxer, the rock tosser, and the guy that’s been perfecting hyper-spins on his bmx every day at sundown since before 2002.

  6. I seen the legendary rock thrower the other day. He lost loads weight and was throwing a small stone. I wonder if something happened to him. The she-kickboxer is like a history teacher that I think Isak use to have. The biker has been there nearly every evening? We should make a freestyle bmx contest for him one day.

  7. Lane 4: The rarest of occasions,skating over box North/South.

    Awesome piece. Upon returning to Tompkins in the first week of September the utter disarray of Freshman was apparent.

  8. I have yet to bask in the illustrious glory of Tompkins.

    If no locals are around when I show up at the park, should I just go ahead and vibe myself?

  9. Aron szott is the king of not skating the painted area and tf is a good place to learn switch tres. And u should put PUTAS face on this site to show a example of a fuckin retarded tf skater

  10. yo EJ, the bouncy rail by the benches is the most fun obstacle in existence. the crack is a close second.

  11. Great read QS! I limped in there in April 2009 with bloody heals due to accidentally buying DVS shoes. I threw my bloody socks away in a can by flow of traffic 3. Anyway, you should franchise out the TF identity.

  12. Bryon’s mom moved to Poughkeepsie, so Bryon moved to Poughkeepsie

  13. more light should be shined on the Tf legends such as the combo of Aaron Szott and Matt Avadon ripping everyday in the early 2000’s

  14. Thanks! Skating F.O.T.1 is a whole different business if Rohan is there with a loudspeaker

  15. UPDATE – Tompkins Square Park Deli will be closed for “2-4 weeks”. However there will be snacks and beverages will be available on Ave B

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