Kosciuszko Street Garden
Kosciuszko St. Bet. Marcus Garvey Blvd. And Lewis Ave.
Directions via Google Maps
Kosciuszko Street Garden
Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746-1817) was a Polish general and statesmen who distinguished himself in both the American and Polish wars of independence. He was born on February 4, 1746, at Mereczowszczyzna, in what is now Belarus. As a cadet in Warsaw he earned the favor of King Stanislaw II Poniatowski, and was sent to abroad at the expense of the state in 1769. He studied military engineering in Germany, Italy, and France, where he also studied painting. He returned to Poland in 1774, and while employed as her tutor, fell in love with the youngest daughter of the chief of the Ukrainian Cossacks. His plans to elope with her were discovered; the chief’s retainers punished him physically, and Kosciuszko was dismissed.
Inspired by the liberal philosophies he had learned abroad, Kosciuszko traveled to America in 1776 and volunteered for the Continental Army. Kosciuszko fortified Philadelphia and earned the rank of colonel of engineers in 1776; his strategic choice of a defensive position was a direct contribution to the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, a turning point in the war. He spent the next two years planning and constructing the fortress at West Point – now a military academy – and from 1780 to 1782 used his engineering expertise in a variety of military actions. He was highly honored in the newly formed United States and Congress awarded him citizenship, the rank of brigadier general, land, and an annual pension.
After returning to Poland, he took a leading role in Polish rebellion against Prussia and Russia. Despite some victories and the successful defense of Cracow, the outnumbered and under-equipped Polish insurgents were eventually crushed by the combined Russian and Prussian forces. Kosciuszko was seriously wounded and imprisoned in St. Petersburg for two years. He returned to the United States after his release, and lived here for two years. He was close to Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), meeting with him almost daily, and Kosciuszko named him executor of his estate. Kosciuszko then lived in France, and eventually moved to Switzerland. Shortly before his death, he emancipated the peasants on his estate in Poland; after his death, according to his will, Jefferson used the pension and land Kosciuszko had been awarded by Congress to buy and free African-American slaves.
This garden was once an abandoned lot strewn with trash. In 1977, the community, through the Council on the Environment of New York City’s Plant A Lot program, organized to beautify this plot of land. The Plant A Lot project provides assistance in creating new gardens and community open spaces, and the rehabilitation of this site required the dedication and cooperation of several groups. The Urban Resources Partnership gave $77,000, the Council on the Environment gave $45,315, the Northeast Brooklyn Housing and Development Corporation donated $23,362, the Enterprise Foundation gave $10,000, the Trust for Public Land, $8,000, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden provided $1,850. The 400 Block Kosciuszko Street Block Association and the Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation also lent support. The work in the garden has been aided by the work of many community volunteers, including seniors from the Roosevelt Houses, and participants in the Alternative Sentence Program. The garden, on Kosciuszko Street between Marcus Garvey Boulevard and Throop Avenue, is a partnership between Parks and the community groups that work to maintain it.
In addition to its wide variety of plants, the garden includes a circular seating area with red brick pavers, a bird house, gazebo, gravel paths, benches, picnic tables and a mural painted by local artist Nafissa Camara. The mural shows children discovering the world and the natural environment around them.