Brooklyn Botanic Garden

1000 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

A former ash dump that is now at the forefront of horticultural display and urban gardening, drawing some 750,000 visitors annually.

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Why It Works

Many of the attractions at the 52-acre Brooklyn Botanical Garden run alongside a "main street" of sorts that extends from the Japanese Garden to the Conservatory - a layout that contributes to its success as a public place. This is the busy heart of the gardens, where seasons are marked by the landscape: In the spring, daffodil hill is the first to bloom, then the magnolia trees followed by the dogwoods and tulips, and finally, the water lilies.

This draws people year-round, including winter, when a "Blooming Lights" event attracts them in the evenings throughout the holiday season. Flower-shaped lights are located throughout the gardens, and the cafe and conservatory are open for visitors. The garden's management communicates the view to visitors that the garden is a place to enjoy not just on a singular visit, but rather is a place for all seasons.

What Makes Brooklyn Botanic Garden a Great Place?

Its location on Eastern Parkway, within walking distance of other cultural institutions, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Public library, is ideal. It is very close to a subway stop.

Probably the most comfortable public space in Brooklyn. It features ample benches and grass to sit on, shady and sunny areas, crowded gardens and secluded corners.

It's not just a place for serious botanists, although visitors from as far as Japan frequently come to see its famed Cherry Blossoms, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens draws in the casual visitor like any great urban park. Locals come to relax, nap, read or stroll. It hosts private and public events.

A little too quiet for a large party, but not for a conversation. A great place to visit alone or with a friend.

History & Background

Once an ash dump, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden was created in the late 1800s from New York state legislation which reserved 39 acres of land. By 1910, the garden was founded and an auxiliary was formed in 1917 to support it.

Today the garden has come to represent the very best in urban gardening and horticultural display. It is run by an independent non-profit institution governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees; and supported by public funds through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Natural Heritage Trust, and the Institute of Museum Services, along with private donations, corporations contributions, and admissions and memberships. Interestingly, the Gardens also raise money by patenting new flower hybrids.

The Conservatory was completed in 1988 and holds the Garden's extensive indoor plant collection, staged in realistic environments that stimulate a range of global plant habits. The garden also houses the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, the Unique Plant Family collection and the Trail of Evolution, tracing the development of the natural world over 3-1/2 billion years.

Guided tours are offered on weekends, as well as a variety of off-site trips (strawberry-picking, visits to other gardens and state parks throughout the region). More than 300 volunteers give almost 30,000 hours a year to the garden, working in almost all departments, helping out at plant sales, working as garden guides and at specia events.

Contact Info:

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225, Telephone 718-623-7200

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