Unity Gardens is one of the many parcels of land that was converted from vacant lots into vest pocket parks. In the wake of the urban unrest of 1965, Mayor Robert F. Wagner (mayor from 1954 to 1965) and his successor Mayor John V. Lindsay (mayor from 1966 to 1973) established the Vest Pocket Park program. Through this program, land seized by the City for delinquent taxes could be leased to community organizations, which would then be responsible for the upkeep of the land. Small vacant lots wedged between buildings were transformed into beautiful escapes from the crowded city.
With the help of Parks’ GreenThumb program, citizen groups receive landscaping advice as well as planting materials. In some cases, properties can then be transferred from other city agencies to Parks, which protects the community land in perpetuity while maintenance is remains largely the responsibility of community groups.