Pleasant Village Community Garden
This garden takes its name from the Community of Pleasant Village, the area from 114th to 120th Streets on Pleasant Avenue and west to First Avenue. The neighborhood in turn takes its name from Pleasant Avenue, aptly dubbed for its idyllic location on the coast, a century before construction of the East Side highway.
Originally part of Avenue A according to the 1811 Commissioners’ plan for New York City’s grid, a bend in the river severed Pleasant from the rest of A. Its separate naming in 1879 preserved Pleasant from being absorbed by York Ave. Family farms dotted the rural landscape of East Harlem during much of the 17th and 18th centuries, including those owned by such long-established New York families as the Roosevelts, Astors, Duryeas, and Rhinelanders. Today, thousands of family homes line these same streets, where volunteer community members work the land into urban gardens.
Rose M. Gardella, a former community member, founded this garden on Pleasant Avenue between 118th and 119th, between 1978 and 1982, although it was not until 1997 that it became a park. A sign used to hang here in the garden listing her efforts to secure the land for a children’s garden after several abandoned apartment buildings were demolished on this site. In 1993 GreenThumb, a Parks supported organization that assists community gardeners, designated the garden a preservation site. Twenty-two members from the Wagner Houses to the north, and Upper Yorkville residents to the south now dedicate their time to the garden’s upkeep.
Pleasant Village Community Garden has hosted numerous workshops in the past sponsored by neighborhood groups including the Museum of the City of New York. Activities have covered children’s art and gardening, candle making, herbal medicine, storytelling with beads, wreath making, and the art of fragrance. Tables await the yearly neighborhood get-togethers under blooming green fruit trees. Plots of vegetables and flowers overgrowing their boxes soften the grid around the garden’s white tool shed.
The rich heritage of the area is illustrated in the nearby imposing green-scale City-funded mural Significant Movements (1985), depicting a landscape of planters and their crops