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Greenest Neighborhoods In New York City

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Photo Credit Thinkstock

New York City is getting greener. Boasting the best air quality levels in 50 years, air pollution city-wide has dropped drastically since 2008, thanks in part to an aggressive city-sponsored campaign to convert large buildings to cleaner burning fuel sources, helping make the air in our communities healthier for the city’s inhabitants.

Residents in the Big Apple are also pitching in to do their part to help New York City be more environmentally friendly. According to PlaNYC 2030, The use of public transportation and bikes is going up and the number of New Yorkers recycling and composting has increased. A trend towards organic and locally sourced food has also led to a growing number of restaurants and markets featuring sustainable fare.

When it comes to green initiatives and access to environmentally friendly options and green spaces, not all neighborhoods are created equal. Looking to find an eco-friendly neighborhood in New York City? Here are some of New York City’s greenest places to live.

Morningside Heights, Manhattan

Home to ever-expanding Columbia University, Morningside Heights in Manhattan is taking the lead in the buildings that have already converted from oil and gas to cleaner burning fuel sources through New York City’s Clean Heat program. Over 35 buildings have made the switch between 110th and 122nd  in the west side neighborhood, resulting in cleaner air and better health for the neighborhood’s residents and thousands of students who live in the community.

In addition to the changeover to clean heat, Morningside Heights also has a number of green spaces that encourage outdoor play and help make Morningside Heights a top green spot in the middle of crowded and highly trafficked Manhattan. From the well-manicured lawns of Columbia University to Riverside and Morningside Park flanking the neighborhood’s east and west borders, both long-term residents and the thousands of students in the area never have to go far to find grass, trees and a place to escape the busyness of city life.

Forest Hills Gardens, Queens

Easy access to public transportation is one of the things that makes Forest Hills Gardens one of the greenest communities in New York City. Among the oldest planned communities in the United States, the historic area of Queens, filled with mansions, historic sites, lawns and green spaces, boasts landscape originally planned by Fredrick Law Olmstead, Jr, the son of the architect who designed Central and Prospect Parks.

The large number of homes and relatively less traffic means residents of Forest Hills Gardens escape some of the problems of living in New York’s more densely populated and industrial neighborhoods. In addition, the park-like community also has its own Greenmarket, which offers locally sourced produce and meats every Sunday from April through December.

Park Slope, Brooklyn

Trendy and trendsetting, Park Slope, Brooklyn with its close proximity to nearby Prospect Park is also one of the greenest places in New York City to call home. From a large range of organic eateries and shops to an activity green-minded civic council, the community has a lot to offer residents seeking an eco-friendly life.

Home to popular Park Slope Food Coop, the longstanding organic food cooperative has offered healthy and affordable food options to its members since 1973. Diners will also find a number of organic restaurants in the area specializing in locally raised meat, vegan and vegetarian options and organic, locally sourced wines.

With a number of volunteer-minded residents, the active Park Slope Civic Council organizes civic sweeps, recycling events and encourages eco-friendly ways to celebrate the holidays on its website. The Civic Council also offers a range of kid-friendly environmental initiatives, including an alliance with a local school to create signs to help protect local trees and programs aimed at helping kids pick up trash and raise awareness for recycling.

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Tamar Auber is a freelance writer whose work can be found on Examiner.com.