Garment District workers can find some space to breathe, and some free lemonade, with the return of the "urban garden" on Broadway.
Set apart from the otherwise bustling and traffic-filled midtown district, a 180-foot-long mural resembling water now stretches between 37th and 38th streets and is surrounded by green turf, birch trees, cafe chairs and tables, and a sectioned-off bike line.
The mural, "Nymph Pond," by artist Carla Torres, was inspired by a pond of the same name in the Galápagos Islands, where she used to live. Her painting shows a nymph peeking through the water among shades of purple, blue and green.
NYC DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Edward Pincar Jr., who was at the Wednesday unveiling, said Torres wanted it to be a place of solace and relief in one of the busiest corridors in the city.
"You’re immediately attracted to the colors, they jump off of the pavement in a way that you never expect on our streets," Pincar Jr. told amNewYork. "By showing what our public spaces can be and look like and how they can function in new ways leads to inspiration and motivation for the next project."
Plus, every Wednesday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., those hanging around the plaza will be privy to free lemonade by Renegade Lemonade, classic or passion fruit hibiscus, and some live music.
The "Nymph Pond" mural and "urban garden" is only around for the summer as part of the Garment District Alliance‘s Art on the Plazas, which is a year-round program through Arterventions by NYC DOT’s Art Program.
At the ceremony, Pincar also announced that the city is allocating $20 million in capital funds to make two blocks along Broadway (somewhere between 41st and 36th streets) into permanent pedestrian plazas, which would elevate the height of the plazas to that of the sidewalks, add new amenities and more. It will be the first designated open public space in the history of the Garment District, he said.
"Last summer, pedestrian volumes increased on this street by 30 percent — proof that when we provide more public spaces, our neighbors take to them in a New York minute," he said.
The Garment District Alliance has been advocating for more open space for years, first unveiling plans for future pedestrian spaces in 2016, according to Barbara Blair, the group’s president.
"The reallocation of both roadbed and sidewalk space in New York City is becoming ever more urgent as each year we see increased numbers of employees in the district, and visitors, Ubers, Lyfts, bikes, scooters and every other conceivable mode of transportation," she said at the ceremony. "Giving that amount of space over to a single use, cars, is no longer viable in any city as densely populated as ours."