Last weekend, when I reported that Calypso St. Barth was closing, current Westporters thought of the “luxury lifestyle brand” store’s massive concrete steps, on the very visible Post Road East/Main Street corner.
When I referred to it as “the original library building,” that helped “06880” readers who once lived here, yet no longer do, visualize the location.
But it was the photo caption that really brought back memories, for anyone of a certain age. Referring to Calypso’s entrance kitty-corner from Tiffany (the old Ships restaurant, and before that Colgan’s and Thompson’s drug store), I wrote:
“Years ago, the plaza was a public park, outside the original Westport Library.”
Ah, yes: Needle Park.
That was the nickname given to what was — in the 1960s and ’70s — a very funky place.
Teenagers hung out there. They strummed guitars, held anti-Vietnam War protests, and made out.
They smoked cigarettes. They smoked weed. They bought and sold drugs too — though there was not much heroin around then. “Needle Park” was a name meant to scare people away.
But — like most attempts to tell teenagers what to do — calling it “Needle Park” just made it more attractive.
The park is gone now — victim of the corporatization of downtown (and, perhaps, no one paying attention to the fact that there was supposed to be a park “in perpetuity”).
Teenagers don’t spend time downtown anymore. Even if they did, they’d never think of hanging out on the cold concrete steps. Too intimidating.
Not welcoming at all. Nothing like the joyful image that “calypso” conveys.