"an oasis of tranquility in New York's East Village"
Located at 530 East Sixth Street, between Avenues A & B, the Creative Little Garden has been an oasis of tranquility in New York's East Village since 1978. It's a "community backyard," maintained by volunteers from the surrounding neighborhood. There are no plots tended by individual gardeners, instead members collaborate on the landscaping of the whole park. Everyone, not only members, can relax, read, have lunch, work on your laptop or just enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of our garden.
Our garden began as this tenement building at 530 East 6th St. It's the building in this circa 1940 photo with the stairway and the truck parked in front. Through the 50's and early 60's several buildings on this block became abandoned. Some were renovated, some homesteaded and a few were totally demolished. The building that occupied our site burned in the early 70's and was demolished soon thereafter. Immediately following, the land was marked for a community garden and in 1978 opened as the Creative Little Garden.
In the early 80's Françoise Cachelin started the garden and under her leadership the lot was leased to the Parks Department and Greenthumb. She was an outspoken and staunch supporter of individual and community rights, and without her our garden would not be here today. Françoise passed away in 2003, but we continue to take inspiration from this former member of the French Resistance and spirited advocate for the rights of downtown residents.
Over the years dozens of volunteers have helped preserve the garden. Around 2006 the site was placed in peril as the two-story structure next door was changed into a six-story "luxury" rental. Difficulties with scaffolding and debris peaked when a large portion of the garden collapsed into the neighboring basement during construction, and concerted work was needed to restore and improve the garden.
The Creative Little Garden is now an oasis of tranquility in New York's East Village once again. It's a "community backyard," maintained by volunteers from the surrounding neighborhood. There are no plots tended by individual gardeners, instead members collaborate on the landscaping of the whole park.
Pre-history of the Garden
1840’s - The are is settled be German immigrants and known as ‘Kleindeutschland’.
1880’s - The area is resettled by Easter European Jews, Irish and Italian immigrants.
1900’s - Now the most densely populated area of NYC, due to the proximity of garment factories/
1910’s - New subway system allows workers to move out and area sees first decline
1950’s - Area resettled by Puerto Ricans and now known as ‘Loisaida’.
1960’s - Area goes into decline and many buildings become abandoned.
1970’s - Area now a mix of Spanish, African American and Bohemians and many buildings now being “homesteaded”. Some buildings (including the one that stood where our garden is now) are totally demolished.
1978 - A lease is obtained from the city for the empty lot now occupied by our garden.