Allan Reiver is the owner, curator, and operator of the Elizabeth Street Gallery in New York City. Located directly adjacent to the Elizabeth Street Gallery is the Elizabeth Street Garden, which is one of Little Italy’s most beloved spaces. Seeking to beautify what was once one of the area’s most dilapidated corners, Allan Reiver has leased the park space from the city since 1991.
“Everything in there, I planted. I built the garden,” Reiver said in a 2015 article published in The Villager. Prior to his efforts, the block supported two 24-hour bakeries and a vacant and derelict apartment building. The city had planned to build a public school, but the residents of Little Italy protested the construction, so the lot remained empty and seemed destined to become a parking lot. Now, its signature stone lions welcome visitors to a beautiful public space that’s adorned with not only green space, but also a carefully curated selection of stone monuments and garden statues.
The garden, which is open to the public 7 days a week from 10am to 6 p.m., is maintained by a group of local volunteers.