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Latest Best of NY

6 Hidden Gardens In Manhattan

August 14, 2013 6:00 AM

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Manhattan’s hidden gardens provide shady, leafy solace from the hot, hectic streets. Some are literally shielded from the sidewalk, while others are just hard to find, unless you know what you’re looking for. All are secluded, open to the public, and really, really nice. By Jessica Allen.

More: Midtown Manhattan’s 5 Best Pocket Parks

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

The Garden at St. Luke in the Fields

487 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 924-0562

More: NYC 5 Best Sculpture Gardens

Enclosed by a high brick wall and wrought-iron gates, the garden maintained by the Church of St. Luke in the Fields is like something out of a dream or fairytale. An afternoon there is roughly equivalent to seven consecutive back massages, at least. The trees, shrubs, and flowers, including lavender, magnolias, petunias, daffodils, and roses, host more than 100 species of birds. This West Village Wonder is free and open daily, but occasionally closes early for church events.

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

Lower East Side Girls Club Garden

56 East 1st Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 982-1633

Founded in 1996, the Girls Club offers young women from age 8 to 23 a safe place to learn, grow, create, explore, and just be. Its First Street garden doesn’t have the fancy landscaping or furniture of some of the other places on this list, but it does have inspiring murals depicting “Women Who Change the World.” There’s Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Susan B. Anthony, reminding us to vote, and activist Ella Baker.

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

Elevated Acre

55 Water Street
New York, NY 10041
(212) 963-7099

Two escalators above street level sits a huge landscaped garden, with tremendous views of the East River, 30 feet below. The site of outdoor movies in the summer and fancy events year-round, the park’s concrete amphitheater and all-season lawn have become a favorite lunch (and napping) spot for those who work in the Financial District. Stop by, start chatting, and perhaps you’ll net some investment advice.

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

Liz Christy Community Garden

Corner of Houston Street and The Bowery
New York, NY 10003

In the hopes of spreading greenery, activist Liz Christy would throw “seed bombs” into the city’s trash-strewn lots in the early 1970s. She and her fellow “Green Guerillas” wanted to show officials what might be possible in these abandoned spaces, namely beauty and nature. This East Village garden honors their vision with a pond that’s home to red-eared slider turtles and koi, birch trees, wildflowers, a grape arbor, and several vegetable plots and fruit trees.

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

Church of the Holy Family Garden

315 East 47th Street
New York, NY 10017
(212) 753-3401

Across the street from the not-at-all-hidden (but still pleasant) Dag Hammarskjold Plaza is a small, easy-to-overlook greenspace. The Church of the Holy Family’s courtyard is a few steps below the street, set off with a metal gate. Go ahead and walk in, if it’s open. Among its lushness is a bronze sculpture by Dean Ebben honoring both the victims and heroes of September 11th, as well as a small foot bridge arcing over a fish-filled pond and an unobtrusive statue of the Virgin Mary.

Greenacre Park

217 East 51st Street
New York, NY 10022
(212) 838-0528

Inside this pocket park lives utter relaxation. Three tiers of seats surround a 25-foot waterfall, a stream, and, essentially, a moat. Honey locust trees wag overhead, peace lilies move in the breeze, the BlackBerry gets put away, all thoughts of work disappear. If there’s a more charming, more zen-inducing 60-by-120 feet in Midtown, we have yet to find it. And it’s not just us: Project for Public Space named it one of the best parks in the world.

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