Elizabeth Street Garden wins major victory in battle to stay alive

Volunteers, elected officials, and neighbors gathered Wednesday evening to celebrate a major win for a Lower Manhattan greenspace.

Elizabeth Street Garden, a one-acre scenic patch nestled in the Nolita neighborhood, saw its grounds jam-packed with humanity on Nov. 2 to hear with bated-breath the latest news regarding their local jewel.

The community open space has become an oasis to those who yearn to study, work, or simply relax under tree canapés in a jungle of concrete and mortar — yet this last bastion of greenery has been threatened for several years by those who wish to build housing upon its pastures.

In what has been a long and still undergoing fight, the garden and it’d supporters finally had some good news.

Attendees waited in anticipation for an update on their court petition. Photo by Dean Moses
Locals gathered to celebrate Elizabeth Street Garden’s court victory on Nov. 2. Photo by Dean Moses

“I do have to tell you when I saw the notification from the court, I got nervous. Four years we’ve been fighting this, some of you seven years, so I got nervous,” attorney for the garden Norman Siegel told the crowd. “The opening line said petitioners, which is us, the petition is granted.”

Cheers and applause reverberated around the green space. According to Elizabeth Street Garden representatives, Justice Debra James ordered that the city must conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement in light of rapidly fading green space in underserved neighborhoods. While this by no means saves Elizabeth Street Garden indefinitely, it is a major win for those who have been fighting for the acre’s survival.

Signs read, “Save our Green space.” Photo by Dean Moses

“We just had a victory and it’s not over, the fight is definitely continuing, and the city will fight hard, and we anticipate them to appeal. This just gives us some time,” Elizabeth Street Garden Executive Director Joseph Reiver said. “We’re not a small number of people. This is the amount of people that can show up at 4pm on a Wednesday. Last year, we had 30,000 letters sent to the administration. That’s not a small number of people. This is a community.”

Elizabeth Street Garden executive director Joseph Reiver. Photo by Dean Moses

Attendees showed their support by bringing signs reading “save our garden,” even local residents clung to their fire escapes to watch the proceedings. 

“Save our garden.” Photo by Dean Moses
Locals gathered to celebrate Elizabeth Street Garden’s court victory on Nov. 2.Photo by Dean Moses