A Look at the Summit Street Community Garden Site in the ’80s

A vacant lot at the corner of Summit and Columbia streets in Brooklyn in the 1980s

The corner of Summit and Columbia streets in the 1980s, before the lot was the Summit Street Community Garden. Photo from 80s.nyc

The  80s.nyc website is like a Google Street View that lets you glimpse into New York City’s past. Over a period of five years in the 1980s, the City of New York had every property in the five boroughs photographed for use by the city’s department of finance to estimate property taxes. These photos are compiled on 80s.nyc and organized  into a searchable map view.  Since these photos were of taxable property, vacant lots were photographed as well, so many sites of the current community gardens were also photographed. Check out the corner of Summit and Columbia streets, current home to the Summit Street Community Garden, in the 1980s.

A vacant lot at the corner of Columbia and Summit streets in Brooklyn in the 1980s

This is what the Summit Street Community Garden site looked like in the 1980s. Photo from 80s.nyc

Of course, the founding members of the Summit Street Community Garden remember this lot. As documented on the garden’s history page, in 1993, neighborhood residents began moving trash and rubble out of the lot, which was then approved  for a lease as a community garden from GreenThumb in 1994. Here are a few more recent photos of the corner of Summit and Columbia streets today.

While looking through the 80s.nyc website, you might see some other familiar community garden sites.

The corner of Van Brunt and Hamilton in Brooklyn in the 1980s

The corner of Van Brunt Street and Hamilton Avenue, where the Backyard Garden is today. Photo from 80s.nyc

An empty lot at the corner of Van Brunt and President streets in the 1980s.

The corner of Van Brunt and President streets, where the Urban Meadow is today. Photo from 80s.nyc

An empty lot at the corner of Sackett and Columbia streets in Brooklyn in the 1980s.

Sackett and Columbia streets, where the Human Compass Garden is today. Photo from 80s.nyc

To learn more about the origins of NYC community gardens, check out the WNYC  story about New York City’s first community garden, which now bears the name of Liz Christy, founder of the Green Guerillas. In 1973, Christy decided to brighten up an abandoned Lower East Side corner lot at Bowery and Houston Street and enlisted volunteers to haul out trash and debris, lay down topsoil, install fencing, and put in plants. Five years later, GreenThumb began, and this program is how more than 600 community gardens in New York City exist today.

 

 

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