Elizabeth Street Garden, New York City, NY

Urgent Action Needed for the Elizabeth Street Garden

On June 18, 2024, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled six to one that the City of New York could proceed with the demolition of the Elizabeth Street Garden to build a mixed-use development with 123 units of affordable housing. The ruling could result in the city’s forced removal of the garden in early September. Garden supporters are urged to write Mayor Eric Adams to prevent demolition using a pre-written letter on the Elizabeth Street Garden's website.

The court’s decision hinged on whether the city’s department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) had done the necessary analysis to determine if construction would cause “a significant adverse impact on the environment.” The court’s majority ruled in the city’s favor despite a spirited 24-page dissent by Judge Jenny Rivera who wrote: “the City failed to take the requisite hard look at the climate change impact of the project, including the reduction in open space, and did not provide a reasoned elaboration for its determination. The Appellate Division thus erroneously concluded that HPD complied with both state and city environmental quality review laws. I cannot agree with the majority’s overly deferential approach that allows for less than rigorous environmental 


According to Reiver: “This decision is not only a loss for our community but for environmental review and open space across the city and state. However, our effort to protect and preserve Elizabeth Street Garden is not over and our legal team is considering all remaining options.” This is not the first time the Elizabeth Street Garden has come up short in the courts and its supporters have won numerous cases.

The garden was created on a dilapidated one-acre city-owned site leased to the late Allan Reiver in 1991 who created a distinct verdant work of outsider art noted for its architectural remnants and eclectic mix of statuary. Reiver’s son Joseph, who worked with his father on the creation of the garden, has continued to operate this rare public open space that serves as a community hearth, which hosts poetry readings, musical and dance performances, movie nights, local school groups, and others. The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) and dozens of other organizations and businesses support efforts to create an Elizabeth Street Garden Conservation Land Trust. For now, however, TCLF urges garden supporters to write Mayor Adams and request that he save the Elizabeth Street Garden.