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4/11/2023 West Side Community Garden

New York City, United States

STORIES OF A DIFFERENT TIME

Along the curved pathway within the green neighborhood sanctuary of West Side Community Garden, two ladies sit, reminiscing the old days. They tell us of the early days when it was a common practice for those involved to visit the nearby stables, where police horses were kept, and bring back wheelbarrows full of horse manure to be used as fertilizer for the newly planted vegetables.

 

The stories take us back to 1976, a period in New York's history following the city's near bankruptcy. The West Side Community Garden was established in the Lower East Side of New York City, on a vacant lot filled with waste, brought to life by the determination of the local community to reclaim the site.

 

As the 1980s rolled in, the land's ownership status remained uncertain, prompting the local community to redouble their efforts in securing the site's continued use. They rallied against a proposed construction project by a real estate developer. This effort led to an agreement that included the creation of a garden designed by a landscape architect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half of the funds for design and construction came from a local fundraising campaign, with a smaller portion from a loan by the Trust for Public Land. The other half was contributed by a real estate developer who, in exchange, gained permission by the city to construct taller buildings nearby. 

 

Today as a result, the garden remains accessible to the public seven days a week and functions as a non-profit, providing free events for locals and passers-by. Perhaps the most significant achievement, in addition to the transformation of the once-neglected urban space, is the sense of ownership the local residents hold for this green sanctuary.

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