Yesterday, I walked back home from a Union Square school book purchasing excursion through Alphabet City. I wound around Avenues B and C for quite a while. Alphabet City comprises of Avenues A, B, C and D and runs from 14th Street to Houston Street. It was an absolute war zone in the 1980s and its landscape was littered with burned-out buildings, vacant lots filled with garbage, drug dealers and squatters. It wasn't a friendly place by any means. It was home to some of the first graffiti writers, rappers and DJs. It was also one of New York City's most brutally violent neighborhoods.
In 1978, New York City started something called Operation GreenThumb and throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, this organization cleared out many of the vacant lots throughout Alphabet City and turned them into fully functional Community Gardens. There are now well over 50 Community Gardens on the Lower East Side, most of them in Alphabet City and they are some of the most beautiful, unsung wonders of New York City.
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