Put down roots near our favorite green spaces in the five boroughs
- Last Updated: 6:04 AM, June 25, 2012
- Posted: 10:50 PM, June 20, 2012
Sure, New York is a metropolis of glass, steel and concrete. But we aren’t without a respite from it, thanks to the impressive number of parks, gardens and green spaces scattered throughout the city. Heck, we even forsook a huge swath of valuable real estate in the center of Manhattan and put in Central Park instead, and the 585-acre Prospect Park sits smack in the middle of our most populous borough, Brooklyn.
Pockets of green can be found everywhere, in all five boroughs. And what better way to enjoy them than owning some real estate nearby?
Here are a few of our favorite, lesser-known green spots and what’s on the market around them.
West Side Community GardenOn the Upper West Side, there’s no shortage of available greenery. To the east is that modest green space known as Central Park. To the west is Riverside Park. In between are a whole bunch of apartment buildings and houses, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few green spaces, too, like the West Side Community Garden, between 89th and 90th streets and Amsterdam and Columbus avenues. The 89,000-square-foot empty lot was reclaimed in the 1970s by locals as part of an urban renewal plan and now consists of a flower park and vegetable plots centered on a floral amphitheater in the middle of the garden. The garden plays host to summer concerts, Shakespeare performances and arts-and-crafts festivals. But the best way to enjoy this space is to take a book to read on a balmy summer day among the garden’s fragrant lilies.
Sunnyside Gardens Park
You might feel like you’re dealing with a co-op board trying to get into Sunnyside Gardens Park. The 3-acre park is only open to members (it’s capped at 500, and they’re currently not accepting any new ones, according to their Web site), plus you need to live in the zoned area that roughly spans Barnett Avenue to 43rd Street to Queens Boulevard and over to Woodside Avenue (minus a few blocks). Plus, membership isn’t free (families can spend hundreds of dollars annually on dues and fees). But none of that matters once you’re inside this oasis amidst the Sunnyside apartment buildings. Aside from the well-kept greenery, there are picnic tables, a ball field, three tennis courts and when it gets hot, the sprinklers are turned on and the kids of Sunnyside Gardens go wild with happiness.
Wave HillThe New York Botanical Garden is great, but have you been to Wave Hill? The 28-acre public garden (admission is $8), which hugs two Bronx neighborhoods, Fieldston and Riverdale, overlooks the Hudson River and Palisades and boasts 11 separate gardens, three greenhouses and even beehives. “It began life as a private estate,” says Martha Gellens, assistant director of marketing for Wave Hill. Wave Hill’s collection consists of 1,100 types of flowers and 3,200 species of plants. In bloom are poppy roses, magnolia, lavender and countless other flora. “It’s a very intimate garden setting,” says Gellens. “You can walk on the grass and go barefoot, but it’s not a park. There are no barbecues, no dogs, no picnics. But little kids love to roll on the grass and run around in a circle.”
Snug HarborStaten Island is currently in the middle of the biggest park development the city has undertaken in 100 years (the 2,200-acre Freshkills Park). But somehow we doubt it will be able to compete with Snug Harbor Cultural Center, an 83-acre public site, home to museums, music halls and the island’s botanical garden. Among the biggest attractions are the Chinese Scholar’s Garden, consisting of eight pavilions, a path surrounded by bamboo and a koi pond; the Richmond County Savings Tuscan Garden, modeled after the Villa Gamberaia in Florence; as well as a half-acre “secret garden” featuring a maze of hedges.
Summit Street Community GardenBack in the 1980s, the corner of Summit and Columbia streets in the Columbia Waterfront section of Brooklyn was an empty lot filled with garbage and weeds. But by the early ’90s, locals had decided to clean up the lot — along with three others in a 10-block radius and a fourth a few years ago — and turned it into a lovely garden of about 4,500 square feet. Today, green grapes are growing on the vines along the gate leading into the park. Hydrangeas, lilacs and yellow roses are in full bloom. “Some people have moved here because of these gardens,” says Claire Merlino, a resident and one of the volunteers who tends to Summit Street Community Garden. We understand why.