This Web site attempts to tell the story of the Baltic Street Community Garden at P.S. 133, now under threat. It was created by the gardeners.
The current plan to replace P.S. 133 with a gigantic new school would destroy the heart of an effective urban renewal effort to address urban blight, a 1980’s collaboration of private, public and governmental agencies.
Now, the city has turned its attention to a new problem — crowded schools in a neighboring area. Are we as a city so fickle that we will destroy the solution to one urban problem to address a new one?
Why can’t we protect the heart of lower Park Slope and come together again to solve new problems?
The Baltic Street Community Garden at P.s. 133 is more than 30 years old. The first plots were planted by residents along Baltic and Butler in the 1970’s, when the Green Guerrillas were active in Manhattan. The Baltic Street gardeners took over part of a two-block tract that had been demolished to make room for a city development that never arrived and had become a dump site and a haven for crime.
In 1983 and 1984, the garden was moved slightly to the west to its current site, as part of a project known as Park Slope Village. The plan was to created a home-owning community out of a blighted, lower income urban area, something like the famed Charlotte Gardens in the Bronx.
Park Slope Village had two elements at its core: the garden, and stately P.S. 133, designed by Charles B.J. Snyder, a remarkable architect whose hundreds of schools were built in all five boroughs. Many are landmarked.
The new housing was designed to reflect some of the school’s architectural elements, including the sharp roof lines.
Public, private and government groups joined forces to bring the project about and to strengthen the garden’s infrastructure. They included: the Park Slope Civic Council, the Fifth Avenue Committee, the city Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, Green Acre, the Astor Foundation, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Horticulture Society – and Armando, of the local gang, who gave the project street cred.
The current garden, with 14 generous plots, was designed by Lee Weintraub and was intended as a permanent garden. It is the only community garden on Fourth Avenue from Atlantic to the Verrazzano.
Hundreds if not thousands of area residents have tended flowers, vines and vegetables here. They are Puerto Rican, African-American, Latino, Yemeni, Japanese, and American pale. Some live in Wyckoff Gardens, some in brownstones; some are the original buyers in Park Slope Village.
Click here for a fuller history of the garden, written in 1984.
Click here for information from the Office of the Attorney General of New York State on protections for gardens on school property.