OUR MISSION: TO PROTECT & PRESERVE THE MAGIC OF ELIZABETH STREET GARDEN AS A PUBLIC COMMUNITY GREEN SPACE AND TO DETERMINE HOW NYC PARKS & RECREATION TOGETHER WITH THE COMMUNITY CAN PROTECT THIS SPACE FOR GENERATIONS TO ENJOY.
With a nearly 200 year old history as a public space, Elizabeth Street Garden is a treasured fixture in the heart of Nolita, NYC. Its multi-century long history is rooted in education and recreation for the community and is facing an uncertain future.
The area was acquired in 1822 and Public School 5 (PS5) was opened. A learning environment for all, it provided classes for children and adults alike. Over the years, the space went through a series of construction and renovations including growing its recreational spaces for the general public to benefit from through the 70’s. In the early 80’s, a portion was taken over to build affordable housing and a parcel of land was deemed exclusively as recreational space. This space, called Lot 41, is known as the Garden today but remained enclosed and unused for a decade.
In 1990, the lot was leased to the Elizabeth Street Gallery owner, Allen Reiver, who turned it from an overgrown and abandoned lot to the thriving unique art and park space that it is today. A tranquil and lush natural environment for locals and welcomed visitors of all ages, the Garden is filled with whimsical outdoor statues and structures. For the past 29 years, Allen maintained the Garden and it has since flourished with additional structures fit for public programming and exhibitions.
Then in 2012, unbeknownst to the public, the land’s rights were sanctioned to the city to be turned into mixed use housing and retail. Once the plans were made known, the Garden community and surrounding local businesses rallied and created the new volunteer-based, non-profit Elizabeth Street Garden (ESG) in an effort to save the beloved space.
Today, the ESG is working relentlessly to save the Garden through building a strong legal case while continuing to offer free and public programming to its visitors. Some events include Sunday morning yoga, art exhibitions, movie nights and live music on the weekends.
As a local supporting business, SKU designed a t-shirt for ESG (pictured below), which are available for purchase at the Garden. Located on Elizabeth Street, between Prince and Spring streets, we encourage you to explore, enjoy and support this special enriching space.