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La Guardia Corner Gardens

About this listing

Luxuriously-planted community garden on land owned by New York City

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : Greenwich Village
Parks and Gardens, What New Yorkers Find Beautiful, Gathering Place

Place Matters Profile

On The Web

La Guardia Corner Gardens website


Margaret Breed

This beautiful community garden exemplifies the spirit of Greenwich Village, where neighbors can come together to enjoy an active but serene urban setting. Each of the 24 plots is different, with a great variety of flowering plants, bushes and trees, as well as vegetables. The garden matters as a spot of beauty in our city.

La Guardia Corner Gardens is currently under the Dept of Transportation, not Parks. NYU would like the property for development. It would be harder for them to pursue development if it came under the Parks Dept.

(October 2006)

Ellen Halloran

The National Wildlife Federation recently designated La Guardia Corner Gardens -- located at the corner of La Guardia Place and Bleecker Street -- as a "Backyard Wildlife Refuge." Its trees, shrubs and flowers provide food and shelter for urban birds. In spring and autumn it serves as a stopping place for migratory birds. One of the early supporters of La Guardia Corner Garden was our late friend and neighbor, immigrant and painter Alfred Levitt. The garden held a party celebrating his 100th birthday and he continued to take afternoon walks there for a couple of years following that. In the days immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11th the garden provided a place of solace and reflection for many members of the community.

If something were to happen to the garden, I would miss the brilliant displays of daffodils and tulips in the spring. I would miss the crab apple in blossom and the apple tree in fall. I would miss the benches where neighbors meet and tourists stop to chat and speak of their amazement at finding such beauty in the midst of the city. It is widely believed that New York University plans to expand on this site. Members of the garden have petitioned to have its oversight transferred from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Parks. We have implored the Mayor, the Parks Commissioner and Community Board 2. New York University President John Sexton will neither confirm nor deny any plans to build on this site saying only that at present they have no such intentions.

History of the Garden:

In the spring of 1981 LaGuardia Corner Gardens, Inc.was formed by west village residents led by Cheryl Small, Norma Turrill, Susan Kocik, Gean Mathwig, David Blake, Sandy Klabunde, and others. They began by negotiating with Community Board 2 and NYC's GreenThumb program to transform a vacant city-owned lot at the corner of LaGuardia Place and Bleecker Street into a community garden.

At first, some local residents were opposed to this use but the majority of neighbors supported it. Following a community board vote supporting the establishment of a garden, GreenThumb granted the gardeners a lease for a dollar a year.

The rest of 1981 was devoted to planning, fund raising, and getting a fence system. Gardeners worked with GreenThumb and the Parks Committee of Community Board 2 (chaired by Anthony Dapolito at that time) on design and layout of the garden and surrounding pathway.

The garden area was fenced in by May of 1982. Following this the gardeners began the arduous task of sifting, shoveling, and spreading soil to form a real garden. Plots were laid out, a wooden shed was constructed, and planting began in earnest. At first, water was drawn from a barrel which was filled from a nearby hydrant, A permanent water system using PVC pipe was finally installed in 1985 by David Dorfman and Jeffrey Rowland. Jeffrey Rowland has provided much of this early history of the garden.

The summer of 2006 marked the 25th anniversary of La Guardia Corner Gardens. We hope to continue to serve the community and to thrive even though there are threats of our site being sold by the city. So far we have not been successful in our effort to come under the auspices of the NYC Parks Department which we think would afford protection from development on the site. (2006)

Rhoma Mostel

A community garden, La Guardia Corner Gardens is an active greenspace, one of the few on the west side in Manhattan. It serves the community through creating beauty, allowing the elderly and children to observe the passage of the seasons through seeing flowers and vegetables grow.

It matters to have beauty in our lives; it matters that people realize on a daily basis that they are a part of the cycle of nature. It matters that in a large and sometimes heartless city, that there is a place that serves as an oasis.

We may be endangered by hitherto unrevealed plans to build on the supermarket adjacent to the garden. I would miss the apple trees. I would miss all the individual little gardens with their always interesting choices of plants creating a larger and harmonious landscape.

For more information, contact Sara Jones, Chair, La Guardia Gardens,

(October 2006)

Ellen Reznick

From an empty lot with dirt and garbage and not much else, a group of gardeners created a paradise in N.Y.C. The garden is open to visitors and has a children's program where young children learn about the earth and about gardening.

With more and more buildings going up in lower Manhattan the garden matters more than ever. It's a green place where migrating birds stop to rest and monarch butterflies pass through in the 100s. Many people are drawn to the garden, a place of peace and rest in an ever populated city.

The entire neighborhood would mourn the loss of the garden. We all watch the Spring bulbs come to life followed by the apple trees and the herbaceous perennials. It's ultimately important for the neighborhood and for the many visitors from out of town to have the garden as a place to appreciate nature. (October 2006)

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