Rooftop Gardens in New York City

If there’s one thing you would not expect to see high-up in the New York City skyline – it’s gardens. But there are plenty hidden rooftop gardens atop the city’s skyscrapers where you can peer down at the busy streets whilst enjoying the peace and tranquillity of a spectacular rooftop garden.

The constant expansion of New York City has left little room for greenery, save for the 834 acres that make up central park. But this has not deterred gardeners who instead turned their attention to the Big Apple’s towering buildings.

The roots of the roof garden can be traced way back to 600 BC with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Constructed by King Nebuchadnezzar II, supposedly as a gift to his new bride to help ease her homesickness, the gardens are rumoured to have featured artificial mountains and hanging flower beds to re-create his wife’s homeland. These magnificent gardens became one of the world’s seven natural wonders but were sadly destroyed in the 2nd Century BC. However, their legacy has lived on through a variety of rooftop gardens across the world.

When rooftop gardens first made their way to the skyscraper’s of New York City, you’d find anything from acrobats to dog shows, waterfalls and duck ponds. With these intriguing roof gardens scattered across New York, there’s a whole range to explore. If you are looking to escape the crowded streets and immerse yourself in some truly remarkable gardens, then you just need to head up to the skies.

No matter how small the space, roof gardens have the ability to transport you into another world where life in New York is just a distant memory. Residents have let their imaginations run wild and created their own idea of paradise. From mesmerising Japanese gardens, where the city’s skyscrapers are eclipsed by hanging trees, to rooftops blossoming with colourful tulips – inspiration has been drawn from a variety of cultures, interests and tastes.

But these gardens are not confined to private residential havens, many are open to the public and not only serve curious visitors but local communities. If you want a fresh pick of some of the finest fruits and vegetables in the city, then you’re in luck as many New Yorkers have created their very own farms tucked away on secluded rooftops.

Beside the East River overlooking the Manhattan skyline you’ll find the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, an astonishing 6,000 square foot garden filled with organic vegetables. Visitors are allowed to explore the garden, that is located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on the last Sunday of the month from May to October.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Waldorf Astoria Rooftop Garden, located atop the magnificent Waldorf Astoria hotel in Park Avenue. Established in 1897 when the Waldorf and Astoria Hotels combined, this stunning rooftop has been used as both a concert hall and ice rink over the years but is now home to a collection of plants, herbs, vegetables, and more than a few honeybees!

Ever since the Casino Theatre opened New York’s first rooftop garden in 1882, many have been inspired by this popular trend. From quirky private hideaways, to booming local farms – New York’s roof gardens are truly remarkable.

So next time you’re in the city, remember to look out for any flowers poking their heads over the edge of skyscrapers – there might just be a roof garden begging to be explored.


Amy Horsfield

BA Film and Creative Writing