Sculptures at the Elizabeth Street Garden

The eclectic array of sculptures and pieces of architectural salvage within the Elizabeth Street Garden, a community green space in Manhattan’s Little Italy, give the urban oasis a character all its own. Created by gallery owner Allan Reiver in 1991 in an abandoned city-owned lot, the garden has blossomed into a beloved community space. Loved as this space is, however, it is under threat of development by city officials. As of September 22, 2021, the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) has sent a notice to terminate the lease for the can uncover the history of the space and find out how you can help save the garden!

1. There is an Olmsted Gazebo from a Gilded Age Mansion

Many of the pieces found within the garden were sourced from Gilded Age estates, including an iron gazebo with ties to renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted is most famously known for designing Central Park, though he did commissions all over the country. When Olmsted passed away, his two sons, John and Frederick Jr. kept the family business alive under the name of Olmsted Brothers. One of the first commissions the brothers took was at the Burrwood Estate in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island.

Burrwood was the Gilded Age estate of Walter Jennings, a director, and secretary of the Standard Oil Company. Jennings picked Carrere & Hastings, the architect duo who designed the Standard Oil Building, the Cunard Building, and the New York Public Library’s main branch, to design his five-story, fifty-room mansion inspired by the manor houses of England. The Olmstead Brothers were hired to design additional gardens on the estate’s 400-acres of land. To decorate the garden, the brothers designed the elaborate iron gazebo now found at the Elizabeth Street Garden. At the estate, the gazebo stood in front of a grassy clearing, framed by a sculpture on either side.  One New York Times article refers to the gazebo as a replica, though documents from the Elizabeth Street Garden refer to it as the real thing. The gazebo is a frequent setting of weddings and other events held in the garden.