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Times Square will soon be adorned by a forested landscape nestled within its brightest urban-scape. A wildly successful Kickstarter for a PopUp Forest aims to transform Times Square into an urban oasis in the summer of 2016, with towering trees, native wildflowers, and ferns installed overnight amidst the glitter and glow.

The mesmerizing project envisioned by Marielle Anzelone, a conservation biologist, and the founder of NYC Wildflower Week, aims to reveal New York City’s invaluable natural heritage and give visitors an immersive experience of our rich forested ecosystem. Complete with the sounds of nature streamed live from nearby woodlands (such as Inwood Hill Park) the PopUp Forest will embody the nearly 9,000 acres of “Forever Wild” forests, marshes and wetland areas spread across New York’s five boroughs.


As Ms. Anzelone ardently explains in the Kickstarter video-
“The hustle and bustle of Times Square will momentarily slip away with flowering shrubs, mosses, and understory vegetation providing beauty and important sustenance for migrating birds and pollinating insects. The cacophony of street noise will be quieted and replaced by a live stream of wildlife sounds from nearby woods. Visitors’ sensory experiences will be enhanced through guided woodland walks, interpretive signs, and hands-on educational activities for children. Then – after three weeks – it will all disappear.”

Yes, sadly it will all disappear in three weeks, but pieces of this forest will pop up in pocket parks, sidewalks and school yards across the city.

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The legacy of PopUP Forest will be to weave nature into peoples everyday lives by creating City Block Biomes. The second life of the plants on display in PopUP Forest will be in these small but rich vegetation zones on city streets, adding biological depth and complexity to city blocks.

The PopUp Forest will transform Times Square like never before as a slice of real nature shines in the heart of the glittering urban wonder. The team is working together with the Times Square Alliance to move the project forward but the idea has already become wildly popular and garnered support from city officials, and several organizations. Just days after it launched on Kickstarter, the project has already surpassed its initial goal of $ 25,000 and now with a new stretch goal of $40,000, Ms. Anzelone is taking this innovative idea even further with more flora and fauna than was originally conceived.

The team will also be allotting some of the Kickstarter funds to design and build a prototype in Gowanus, Brooklyn which could eventually lead to developing the world’s first and only PopUp Forest. Not only will it provide a calm respite within New York’s most chaotic public space, it will also bring to light the surreal beauty of nature and perhaps encourage bolder and more ecologically centered urban spaces in the future.

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Catherine is a Project Manager with the Trees and Sidewalks Program at NYC Parks. Get in touch with her @catherine2m

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