Community gardens in all of New York City’s five boroughs, many begun in the late 60’s and early 70’s, were the product of grass-roots activism. Residents who were unwilling to wait for the city to clean up abandoned lots, moved in themselves and created cloistered, vernal retreats in the middle of some of New York’s worst neighborhoods.
However, under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the city finally decided to do something with these lots. The city began the process of bulldozing many gardens and auctioning off the land to developers. Giuliani argued that the city needed the lots for additional low-income housing, and that while the destruction of the gardens would be be distressing, in the long run area residents would benefit.
The residents didn’t want to wait for the long run, and pulled together to protest.
The city moved forward with plans to auction off 112 garden lots to developers on May 13, 1999. On May 12, Bette Midler in cooperation with the Trust For Public Land, purchased all 112 of the lots from the city, for a combined total of $4.3 million.
‘Today I’m prouder than ever to be a New Yorker,’ said Midler, who moved to the East Coast after an earthquake in California. ‘We’re thrilled. This is a joyous occasion and means that these gardens will stay in perpetuity.” You can learn more about her work here.
With this in mind, please enjoy blasting the anthem “Thank You Bette Midler” by the great Max Wolf : ThankYouBetteMidler.