After April showers come May flowers, and based on recent New York weather there have been more showers than usual for the first week of May. It has been non-stop gloom and doom, well not doom, but not having the sun shine among the blue skies is pretty close to being doom. Yet not all is grim because I have found another secret garden for you guys to check out! It is called Jefferson Market garden and it has just as much history as my previous post.
Jefferson Market, named after Thomas Jefferson, today stands as part garden and part New York Public Library. However, back in 1833 it was part prison and part market (and not the organic farmer’s market kind of today). Located on Greenwich Avenue between Sixth Avenue and West 10th Street, the garden can be visited during the months of April to October, everyday except for Mondays, from 10:00AM to dusk (weather permitting).
Over it’s 183-year history, this piece of land has transformed itself numerous times. To give you a time warp of what has been built, destroyed, and renovated on this land here is a quick time line:
1833 Jefferson Market opened selling poultry, fish and other knick knacks. A wooden lookout tower with a bell and small prison was constructed.
1845 The NYC Police Department was established becoming headquarters of one of the city’s first police courts.
1877 Courthouse with bell tower, designed by Frederick Clarke Withers and Calvert Vaux (co-creator of Central Park) in Victorian and Venetian Gothic styles was built. A jail of similar architectural design opened in 1878.
1883 A masonry market building designed by Douglas Smythe filled the remainder of the Jefferson Market site, replacing the market’s old sheds.
1927 By this time the jail and courthouse were used only for trials of women, locally known as “the lady’s courthouse.” Described as “dungeon like,” both jail and market would be demolished in favor of the Women’s House of Detention.
1932 The Women’s House of Detention opened, ushering in “a new era in penology.”
1945 The district court system was overhauled and the Jefferson Market Courthouse ceased being a courthouse. Various municipal agencies in need of cheap, temporary shelter used the space. The building was abandoned by 1958 and was slated for auction by the city.
1967 After the restoration of the courthouse by architect Giorgio Cavaglieri, the New York Public library opened in its place.
1971 The Women’s House of Detention officially closed, and in 1974 it was demolished. The land was transferred to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and a newly formed committee of local residents became its stewards.
1975 Jefferson Market Garden’s first flowers bloomed.
2015 The Garden celebrated its 40th Anniversary.
Click here for the full detailed timeline.
This is another garden that is operated on the donations of the public, for the public. There are benches throughout in which to sit and enjoy the view. An escape from the concrete into the nature. Divided into sections, every part of the garden has something unique to see and the fish pond is definitely a crowd favorite. This is an oasis that welcomes all, from the youngest to the oldest.
Unfortunately, the days I took pictures of the garden it was always cloudy (just my luck!), so you can only imagine how much more vibrant and beautiful the flowers will look on sunny days. Fun fact: one of the days I was taking photos, an enamored man serenaded his girlfriend, with his guitar, to then proceed to go on one knee and propose to her. (Cue the awws!) In tears she said yes and applause followed from the fellow garden visitors, myself included. I definitely felt very mushy inside after that beautiful event happened. Jefferson Market garden is such a beautiful garden, and as you read from my little anecdote, beautiful things can happen, even on cloudy days.