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  • Madeleine Triff

Save The Elizabeth Street Garden!

Photography by Sean Kozak

Layout by Naomi Hawkins

Gardens have been implemented into our artwork, entertainment and lifestyle for centuries. From botanical gardens to the garden in the movie “Hercules,” these locations are symbols of peace, solitude and sanctuary for those who find parks too loud. They are invisible in the most visible of places, and, though they are hard to come by, play a vital role in communities.

I stumbled across Elizabeth Street Garden after a trip to find a Banh Mi sandwich, which, ironically, is in Little Italy. I wanted a picturesque place to eat, but amongst the hustle and bustle of NYC, I almost gave in to having lunch on the sidewalk like a rat. That’s when I saw a small entryway between two large greenery-covered gates.

Curious, I walked through. On the other side was a scene from a fairytale. Luscious

bushes, flowers and chipped statues sprinkled the area. Rusting metal

tables and chairs lounged about the walkways, and disguised, romantic entryways lay behind small trees.

Created from an abandoned lot, Elizabeth Street Garden was founded in 1991 by Allen Reiver. He replaced the former junkyard with trees and greenery. It has thrived with the love he has shared with visitors that found it as I did.

However, the construction of a new building complex is set to destroy Elizabeth Street Garden, even though there is another suitable lot, with five times the space, close by. This would be devastating to the surrounding community. Located near Little Italy and Chinatown, the area is mostly residential and business buildings. All gardens are important to preserve in NYC, but destroying this private piece of sanctuary would only pave the way to the delusional theory that gardens are less important than architectural endeavors. Elizabeth Street Garden is integral to the neighborhood. It gives each busy worker a beautiful, private space to come and escape the noisy streets free of charge. It allows students, couples and families the right to their own place of refuge and peace. Gardens like Elizabeth Street Garden are a haven from bustling city life. These former abandoned lots take the “ugly” parts of NYC and create intricate places that support the wellbeing of our people. Whether you go to the garden to read, converse or enjoy a safe space, it is an escape from a distracting city existence: an invisible place full of truly visible impact.

For more information on saving the Elizabeth Street Garden, visit


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