Living Next To

I moved next to Domino Park to improve my dog's health, and ended up improving my life too

Domino Park, part of a mega residential project at the site of the former Domino Sugar Refinery, is a new, five-acre park along the East River. 

Daniel Levin

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Real estate developers are adding new parks as part of condo and rental projects that are accessible to all New Yorkers. One of these new private/public hybrid spaces is Domino Park in Williamsburg. When a New Yorker named Max moved next door to Domino Park, he thought it would be good for his dog Charlie’s health, but it turns out his newfound “backyard” was something he needed—more than he realized—for his own well being. Here’s Max’s (and Charlie’s) story.

I moved from the East Village to Williamsburg for the love of my dog. I was living in the East Village last year when I decided to adopt Charlie. I soon realized the area was not ideal for a puppy because the streets are extremely dirty and lined with trash. Charlie got sick a lot from eating discarded food and garbage off the street. It was a constant battle and I needed to watch Charlie very closely. 

I decided to move to Williamsburg. I knew McCarren Park was a place pets could get some exercise and hoped Charlie would benefit from its proximity. But I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up in a rental right next to NYC’s newest park, Domino Park, a very new, five-acre park along the East River. 


[Editor's Note: Brick Underground's series “Living Next to” features first-person accounts of what it’s like to have an iconic or unusual New York City neighbor. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]


The green space is right outside my door, and it is a great place to walk along the river and look at the city’s skyline. It’s also a nice, safe spot to hang out with friends. 

Not surprisingly, my dog’s health has improved, but (more surprisingly) so has mine. It’s been a great place for me to go for running, so I feel fitter and more alert. And I also do some yoga and stretching in the park—things that I can’t do so comfortably in a small apartment.

It never really occurred to me to do any of this while in the East Village. Initially I cared more about finding a clean spot that was nearby for Charlie, but now I realize I need to be outside in a green space for my own well being. I am more relaxed, more in shape, and feel like it is an extension of my own apartment—sort of like having my own very large (and crowded) backyard. 

I have become more social as well: I can picnic in nice weather or play volleyball with friends and make new ones in a way that I couldn’t in the East Village. Somehow it’s easier to spark up conversation here than in the anonymous East Village. There’s even an outdoor restaurant, Tacocina, right in the middle of the park, especially good for times I don’t want to cook or order out. 

The best part of living by the park is that Charlie can easily go outside to do her business in an area that is always spotless. No trash on the ground for her to eat!  Charlie doesn’t even come home dirty after running around because much of it is covered in turf—bonus!

There also always a supply of poop bags on hand as well as a drinking fountain just for dogs. She can socialize and make friends, and as a result is better behaved at home. Charlie is less destructive because she gets to release all her pent-up energy after being stuck in an apartment all day. 

One of the only big downfalls of being close to Domino Park is that it’s no secret. It tends to get crowded to the point that sometimes it is overwhelming. At times even a quick stroll can feel like being at a major event. And the restaurant can have really long lines, which is frustrating, especially if I just want to grab a quick bite there. 

There have also been a few times I have lost track of Charlie in the dog run and panicked. While the area is enclosed and I have no fear of her running off, it can be a bit chaotic.

Another drawback is that it seems the area is becoming more and more desirable. There are a lot of new buildings are going up around the park and there’s lots of construction noise. The park is noisy too—I appreciate the fact that it is open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., but that means there can be noise pretty much most of the time. 

Still, even when I can’t find time to go to the park, or the weather is not good, it’s nice to be able to see greenery—or the changing seasons—from my apartment. 

Now that I live next to a greenspace, I think living somewhere without a view or outdoor space would be a disappointment. And if you were to ask Charlie, I’m fairly certain she’d probably say she never wants to live anywhere else—although she probably does miss the street buffet of the East Village.