Select Page

Elizabeth Street Garden

About this listing

Serene Sculpture Garden 

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : Little Italy
Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Gathering Place

Place Matters Profile

On The Web


Spencer Adams

A beautiful, serene public sculpture garden which provides the only green space and grass lawn anywhere in Chinatown and Little Italy. It is an oasis in an otherwise chaotic and completely developed part of the city, with sculptures from all over the world, lovingly tended greenery and garden beds, and one of the only places you can sit and hear bird song downtown. It serves as the only green space within walking distance for many of the elders of the community and hosts a variety of community programs, from gardening activities for elementary school students to yoga to movie nights. It’s currently under threat to be developed by the city into a mixed use building, which would leave only a barren shadow of the community space it is now.

There would be no replacing the hundred or so sculptures and artifacts that ornament the garden. The countless nooks and crannies to tuck away and read in, or catch up with a friend, or just sit and watch the birds and butterflies. It is such an essential relief to the noise and pace of the city surrounding it, especially for the community that lives there.

Thankfully the garden has been open again since the city reopened community gardens in July 2020, and while the capacity has been limited due to COVID concerns, the spirit of it has been maintained and it’s been essential to the mental health of many its visitors during such an isolating time. Just to be able to be outside with some sense of safety and connection to others was crucial for my happiness throughout the pandemic.

New York City is attempting to develop Elizabeth Street Garden into a mixed use building. The volunteers who operate the garden are currently in a lawsuit to block this development and hopefully get the space protected as a conservation land trust.

(added April 2021)


Elise Fife

 A gorgeous sanctuary sculpture garden providing much needed green space in the concrete jungle.

The old growth trees and delightful blooming flowers are evidence of life and the endurance of NYC.

City Hall has approved the destruction of this garden to build housing. It is a land grab by developers who want this valuable real estate. The housing can be built on another site, yet they have not ever investigated other viable options. I would miss lying in the grass, gardening and people watching and socializing with all ages creeds and colors. I would miss peace found only in nature in this neighborhood jewel. I would miss beating witness the the cycle of life in nature, the gorgeous flowers and bird watching. 

The environmental impact of losing trees and green space is unconscionable. The traffic is already insane in this neighborhood and losing the open space will be devastating to our neighborhood. Additionally, there are plenty of vacant properties that can be modified.

(added April 2021)


Patricia Squillari

 A sculpture garden in the dense streets of Little Italy. Open to the community 7 days a week. Contributing free programming throughout the year. Live music, films, book readings, yoga, and much more. The garden opened after the first lockdown, following COVID guidelines. The community was able to safely enjoy the openness to nature and enjoy the company of the neighborhood safely. Elizabeth Street Garden is a non profit 501c3, which maintains all programming and maintenance and legal fees to protect the garden

The city is currently trying the build mixed use affordable housing, and threatens the only green space in this dense neighborhood. The community has found alternative places, one that could build five times as many units and not destroy community green space. Which supports over 100,000 visitors through the year.

(added April 2021)


Joseph Reiver, Director of the Elizabeth Street Garden nonprofit

 Elizabeth Street Garden (ESG) is a community garden providing over 20,000 sq ft of vital public green space along with hundreds of free public programs. The garden is a combination of community garden with gardening plots, park space with recreational areas, community center with programs, and outdoor museum with unique sculptures and architectural elements. Over the last 8 years, that garden has grown to be the heart of Little Italy, welcoming people from all over the neighborhood, city, and even the world.

The garden is over 20,000 square feet of true green space with flowers, plants, and trees where people can relax amidst nature. There are unique statues from all around the world displayed which give the space an extra magical feeling. There is no place like Elizabeth Street Garden in all of New York.

Elizabeth Street Garden  has been essential to our community’s recovery from the pandemic. From the moment we reopened, neighbors local businesses and organizations have expressed their gratitude for a safe outdoor space. Along with reintroducing lite free public programs such as live music, the garden began hosting outdoor class visits with the local public school.

The importance of community green space has been emphasized in the time of COVID, and places like ESG are essential to our city’s recovery.

The garden is currently at risk of being destroyed by the city for a mixed use building that includes 123 units of non-permanent affordable housing for seniors, 4,400 square feet of luxury retail space, and 11,200 square feet of office space for the developer. While ESG is currently involved in a lawsuit to save the garden, we continue to advocate for the proposed development to be built at an alternative location, in the same community board district, that can provide up to five times the amount of units for those in need. Affordable housing and community green space should never come at the expense of one another, nor do they have to with proper long-term city planning.

(added April 2021)


Joseph Reiver, Director of the Elizabeth Street Garden nonprofit

 A green oasis that welcomes neighborhood residents and visitors, this little jewel of a green space is maintained by volunteers. It’s threatened by development, and its loss would be heartbreaking for the neighborhood and the city.

The garden stretches from Elizabeth to Mott Streets, providing a beautiful green space visible from both streets. The garden has a central gravel path bisecting its length. The grounds are filled with large salvaged architectural monuments and fragments. Volunteers have planted and maintain multiple raised-bed gardens. There’s are mature trees that provide shade and beauty, and a the garden provides a green stopover for migrating birds (Manhattan is directly in the flyway of hundreds of migrating bird species).

(April 2021)

#essential place

Website :

Share This Listing

Place Matters is a project of:
Place Matters c/o City Lore
56 E. First Street
New York, NY 10003
© Place Matters. All Rights Reserved.
Website by Echo