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The Sixth Street and Avenue B Community Garden
Until the colonial era the site of the 6th & B Garden was a salt marsh, an arm of the East
River. By the 1890's, the lower East Side had become home to hundreds
of thousands of immigrants, densely concentrated into dank, airless
tenements, lacking adequate light, air, or green space. Throughout 1970's
and early 80's many landlords abandoned their buildings.
The corner of Sixth Street and Avenue B became occupied by deteriorating,
vacant buildings used as shooting galleries by drug addicts then later became
a large empty lot.
In 1982 a committee petitioned the
City's Operation Green Thumb for a lease and began the arduous task of hauling
rubble and trash from the 17,000 square foot site.
Throughout 1983 they drew up plans, built 125 4' x 8' plots, laid
pathways, prepared for the installation of a fence, and laid out ornamental
borders. By April of 1984, Green Thumb had issued a one-year lease. The
Garden established partnerships with the Green Guerrillas and the Trust for
In 1985 The City, the Community Board, and some housing advocates who
took the short-sighted view that the environment was secondary to bricks and
mortar, maintained that the land should be sold at auction to the highest bidder.
An aroused garden membership threw open the gates of the garden. Alliances were
made with a local garden coalition and community planners.
By 1986, the Community Board was forced to take a more flexible stance.
In 1996, a deal was worked out by the Trust for Public Land to give the garden
permanent site status with NYC Parks Department as part of the City Spaces program.
Today the garden serves as an anchor of local community gardening groups and as
a working model of preservation for an energetic greening movement.There are over
15 fruiting trees, more than 50 flowering shrubs and innumerable herbs, flowers and
vegetables. There is a children's adventure playground and children's garden.
Two hundred children utilize the garden weekly. The events program, now in its thirteenth year,
runs all summer, and features over 75 events annually,
The fence, also designed by garden members, represents their "hands-on"
contributions in creating the garden.
(text and photo adapted from Sixth and Avenue B