New York’s fresh squeeze: A faux lemon forest crops up in Midtown

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Jen Notaro takes a whiff of a lemon.
Photo by Dean Moses

When life gives you lemons, make an interactive fruit forest.

A whimsical, artificial forest has now been erected in Midtown Manhattan and it’s open to the public free of charge.

Citrovia is a 30,000 square foot space within the Manhattan West, Brookfield Properties that evokes “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” vibes thanks to its vibrant array of colors, meandering tree branches, and gigantic faux lemons.

This “world of pure imagination” may be one of the best-smelling spots in the city, too. The manmade, inviting garden not only strikes the senses with its splash of striking color amidst the city’s more muted and somewhat dreary backdrop, it also perfumes the air with the scent of lemons.

Citrovia is a 30,000 square foot space within the Manhattan West. Photo by Dean Moses

Officially marking its opening on Monday, July 12, Citrovia was conceived as a solution to the ongoing construction at the Manhattan West development. With Brookfield Properties currently developing a 58-story office tower, the real estate operator opted to construct the lemon field in lieu of a standard-issue construction scaffolding, and in the small number of hours it has been open it is already making a big impression.

Jen Notaro works in a building overlooking Citrovia but has been away due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Returning to work in-person to see a forest took her by surprise.

“This is so lovely and quite literally refreshing, I love seeing people sitting outside. It’s interactive art,” Notaro said, bending to take a whiff of a lemon.

A visitor videos the lemon trees. Photo by Dean Moses

According to developers, the lemon garden was inspired by the terraced citrus groves of Capri but in order to bring their vision to life, Brookfield partnered with Adirondack Studios, the organization that created Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World.      

“The world of Citrovia at Manhattan West is unlike anything else, and we are so excited to welcome visitors into this fully immersive, magical experience. In reimagining an otherwise utilitarian construction shed, Brookfield Properties has created a sprawling, fantastical installation that is completely free and open to everyone,” said Sara Fay, senior vice president of marketing, Brookfield Properties. “We’re so grateful to the hundreds of talented New Yorkers who have hand-painted and crafted each of thousands of lemons, leaves and trees in our larger-than-life and stranger-than-fiction lemon garden in the heart of the Big Apple.”

Carmelo Rios is not soured by the lemons. Photo by Dean Moses

Attendees took selfies with the mammoth fruit and expressionistic tress, telling amNewYork Metro that they felt dazzled by the layout. The Rios family described the area as an oasis, with their only concern being how popular the as of now New York secret may become.

“Once people find out that this place exists—this is a very Instgramable place—it will get so crowded,” Felix Rios said with his wife Angelisa stating that as a photographer she intends to use the location for photoshoots. 

Visitors seem to agree with the company’s slogan, “Life is better with lemons.” 

The trees have an expressionist feel. Photo by Dean Moses