Experienced in beautifying distressed locations in New York, Allan Reiver established the Elizabeth Street Gallery more than two decades ago. He has since created a community space dubbed the Elizabeth St. Garden.
In October of 2015, The Villager featured the Elizabeth St. Garden in an online article. The article discusses the garden’s history, which dates back to 1991, to help the public understand why the location should remain a fixture in the community, instead of being destroyed to make space for a housing project.
The lot originally housed the playground for a school but became littered with garbage after the school was demolished. A proposal to turn the dilapidated space into a parking lot caused an uproar with local residents, and soon the idea was dismissed. In the early 1990s, the space went under lease. The only lease requirement of storing valuable monuments and historical artifacts in the space flourished into a garden because of the efforts of Allan Reiver.
Today, the site is home to Italian sculptures and balustrades from Lynnewood Hall. Additionally, it offers a gazebo made by the notable landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, who developed Prospect Park and Central Park. Little Italy residents as well as former Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe continue to support the garden. As neighborhood park activists, they play a crucial role in helping preserve the community hub. It has become a neighborhood icon!!