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Welcome to the Lotus Garden

The Lotus Garden is a community garden — and a community of gardeners — on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, 20 feet above West 97th Street. Located on the roof of a parking garage, this beautiful, 7,000 sq ft urban oasis is maintained by 28 gardeners and other volunteers.

We are open to the public every Sunday afternoon, from the second  week in April through the first week of November, between 1 and 4pm (unless the weather is particularly inclement).  See the calendar below for specific dates.  We’re located behind the wrought iron gate east of the parking garage on the south side of West 97th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue.  We invite you to visit and experience this special place, become a community key-holder or volunteer.  (Volunteering is often a preliminary step to becoming an active gardener.)

Key holders have access to the garden during daylight hours, 7 days a week.  Membership for one year is $20 and $10 for seniors.  To become a member, come to the garden Sunday afternoon and talk to a gardener on duty.   (Regrettably, the Lotus Garden is not wheelchair accessible.  Access to the garden requires climbing a flight of stairs.)

In addition, we welcome school, daycare, camp, gardening and city tour groups to visit the garden.  Prior written request and permission is required.  Please inquire at info@thelotusgarden.org.

The Lotus Garden is not a venue for events that could just as well occur elsewhere and/or of a commercial nature, such as private parties, activity groups, classes, personal training, etc.

The Lotus Garden (Urban Woodlands Community Gardens, Inc.) is a 501(c)3 non profit corporation registered with Charities NYS (www.charitiesnys.com).  Any donation to the Lotus Garden is tax deductible as defined by the Internal Revenue Service: check with your tax professional for more information.

Our History

Once upon a time back in the 1960s, two grand old movie theaters (the Riverside and Riviera) stood on the west side of Broadway, north of 96th Street. Eventually the theaters closed, the building fell into disrepair and was demolished — leaving an empty lot. Would-be gardeners in the neighborhood took over, planting a riot of flowers in the “Broadway Gardens,” while the local politicians, realtors and bankers squabbled over the future of the lot. (Would an Alexanders department store serve the community better than an apartment house?) In the face of fierce community opposition a number of development projects fizzled.

Determined Upper West Siders organized; local block associations joined the gardeners, along with the City Planning Commission, Community Board 7, and the Trust for Public Land, among others. Out of this emerged a committee, spearheaded by community activists Carrie Maher, a horticulturist, and Mark Greenwald, an architect, which worked with would-be real estate developer William Zeckendorf Jr. on the project for more than a year, persuading him to translate this neighborhood green space into an amenity that would enhance his building’s charm and value.

Zeckendorf built stairs to the roof from a gate on the street; a cherry picker lofted 3-1/2 feet of topsoil onto the garage roof. Then Carrie and Mark, who headed the garden, laid out winding paths, installed two fish ponds and planted fruit trees and flowering shrubs. At last in the spring of 1983, a group of local residents, including new residents of the Columbia, began to plant flowers and herbs beneath the north facing windows of the Columbia’s tower.  Today 28 families tend garden plots there.  Thus the Lotus Garden, a community garden, came to be built on the roof of the garage of the Columbia condominium, on West 97th Street in Manhattan.

1980’s

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1990’s

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2000’s

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PS. Carrie Maher and Mark Greenwald are now married and are gardening happily ever after in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

2017 Lotus Garden Calendar

Saturday, April 1               Clean-up Day  (Rain date Sunday, April 2)

Sunday, April 9                 Garden Opening Day

Sunday, April 30               Spring Street Fair

Wednesday, June 21        Summer Solstice Party  (Rain date Thursday, June 22)

Sunday, Sept. 10               Lotus Garden General Meeting  & Potluck dinner  (for gardeners only)

Sunday, Oct. 15                 Fall Street Fair

Saturday, Oct. 28              Halloween Party  (Rain date Sunday Oct. 29)

Sunday, Nov. 12-18          Last week of Garden Duty

Saturday, Nov. 18             Garden Closes

Saturday, Nov. 18             Bulb Planting and Fall Clean-up  (Rain date Sunday, Nov. 19)