Manhattan returns to its roots

Now, I’m sure all the curious g readers know that back in the 1600s to mid-1700s, most of upper Manhattan was rolling farmland. Do I hear a yes?

Manhattan farms, sustainable urban development, Manhattan then and now, creative urban planning, Riverbank Farm, Alexandria Center for Life Science complex, urban farmingThe original city of New York began at the southern tip of Manhattan and slowly expanded north. While lower Manhattan was dominated by Five Points and other rough-and-tumble ‘hoods, uptown – notably the Upper West Side – was graced by lovely mansions overlooking the Hudson River and farms. The Apthorp Farm was one of the more famous.

In today’s Manhattan, we revel in small patches of public grass. But one of our newest riverfront properties, the Alexandria Center for Life Science on way East 29th, is taking Manhattan back to its past in the hopes of making it better (and more livable) for our future.

Thanks (for us anyway) to stalled construction, there’s the two-week old Riverpark Farm.

“Roughly 6,000 plants are growing on a 15,000-square-foot urban farm in the Alexandria Center for Life Science on a plot where a tower had been slated to rise in the four-acre campus on the East River.”

And what happens to the farm when financing for the tower comes through and construction resumes?

“…the farm can be easily moved elsewhere on the campus. After all, it’s planted in 3,600 milk crates, so it’s portable. The farm produces about 85 different crops, including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, okra, spinach that are used by the [nearby Riverpark] restaurant.”

What a fabulous idea, I love it! Smart. Sustainable. People-friendly. That’s development we can all root for.

I’m gonna mosey on up there soon.

This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. The Castello Plan is the earliest known plan of New Amsterdam, and the only one dating from the Dutch period. It was created by Jacques Cortelyou, General Governor of Nieuw Amsterdam, in 1660.

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