Parks,  Community

Interesting Community Gardens on the Upper West Side

Upper West Siders are fortunate to enjoy a generous amount of green space. Located in between the world-famous Central Park and its counterpart, Riverside Park, there’s always somewhere to repair to, whether to read, relax, or catch up with a friend. But what about the community gardens nestled in the middle of a block or on a street corner? New Yorkers swear by their favorite community garden for specific reasons. But where exactly are the Upper West Side community gardens, and what do they have to offer? Gardens listed run south to north. If you have a few hours to take in more than one, you’ll get a good feel for some of the more interesting community gardens the Upper West Side has to offer.

Septuagesimo Uno – W. 71st St. (between Amsterdam & West End)

This is one of New York City’s early pocket parks, designed to expand the amount of green space for city dwellers. This two-fifths of an acre park is located at 256 W. 71st Street, between West End and Amsterdam Ave. You may have correctly guessed that the park’s name is Latin for “seventy-first”! Frequently called “New York City’s smallest park, this lesser-known spot can be found in between two four-story brownstones. With its “Secret Garden’ setting, and a few welcoming benches, it offers a welcome respite during a lunch hour or at the end of a busy day.

West 87th Street Park & Garden – 55 W. 87th St. (between Columbus & Central Park West)

A valuable part of its Upper West Side neighborhood for over 25 years, and neatly adjacent to Central Park West, this spacious community garden is a go-to for neighbors and visitors alike. Complete with benches, a play area for children, and seasonal foliage, it is a great spot to catch up with family and friends. Volunteers maintain its beautiful garden beds, paths and wall. The garden is open seven days a week, typically from 9 a.m. to dusk.

West Side Community Garden – 123 W. 89th St. (between Amsterdam & Columbus)

The West Side Community Garden is a privately owned garden funded by donations and grants. It has offered a tranquil space for New Yorkers since 1976. Run by volunteers, it is generally open from dawn to dusk. Although the garden is open and free to the public, annual membership is available at the very reasonable price of $15. Members have the opportunity to get on the waiting list for a flower or vegetable plot. They may also volunteer on one of the garden committees. This beautiful and spacious garden is replete with sitting nooks and crannies. It hosts community events throughout the year, ranging from Shakespearean performances, to musical events. The West Side Community Garden may perhaps be best known for its Annual Tulip Festival, where each April, you will find over 15,000 tulips in bloom!

Lotus Garden – 250 W. 97th St. (between Broadway & West End)

The Lotus Garden is neatly located on the roof of a garage on 97th Street between Broadway and West End. Open to the public on Sundays between 1 and 4 pm, this spot offers a unique place to relax and admire the carefully cultivated garden plots.

W. 104th St. Community Garden – 8 W. 104 St. (between Manhattan & Central Park West)

The West 104th Street Community Garden was recognized as an official New York City Park over 25 years ago, in order to protect this lot from commercial development. Divided into two gardens, the East Garden offers a beautiful shady gazebo and an open space for meetings and performances. These include festivals, flea markets, musical events, and the occasional potluck. The West Garden has a communal garden beds and a space to barbecue. An energetic group of volunteers and neighbors maintain this beautiful space.

La Perla Community Garden – 76 W. 105th St. (between Manhattan Ave. & Columbus)

La Perla Community Garden has vegetable plots, abundant flowers and foliage, and a composting center. A little oasis in the middle of a busy city space, it is typically open for a few hours each afternoon.

Mobilization for Change Community Garden – 955 Columbus (between 106th & 107th St.)

This aptly-named community garden at the corner of Columbus and 107th Street feels like a living, breathing, working, and welcoming space. Along with some unique seating areas, and all sorts of plants, shrubs, flowers and foliage, this natural setting has individual garden lots, tranquil walkways, and colorfully painted children’s seating areas. This community garden harvests storm water via a system that captures 2,000 gallons of storm water run-off annually. A pantry, book exchange and monthly and weekly community events (e.g. Garden Open Mic on Tuesdays), round out the offerings at this special community space.

W. 111th Street People’s Garden – NW Corner of Amsterdam & 111th St.

Across the street from the soaring St. John the Divine Cathedral, the world’s sixth largest church, and a hop, step and a jump from the much loved Hungarian Pastry Shop, is the West 111th Street People’s Garden. This green space serves as yet another oasis in a city area that oftentimes teems with students, neighborhood workers, residents and tourists. Open to the public, this peaceful spot offers seating areas for quiet reflection and time to enjoy the greenery and tranquility that characterize the Upper West Side community gardens.

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