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293 East 4th Street
Secret Garden 1 Gardens Alphabet City East Village Loisaida

As its name suggests, it is easy to miss the Secret Garden as a 4th Street pedestrian. Jeanette, a sturdy woman with an aura of business and efficiency, can usually be found bustling crisply throughout the shaded, pastoral area, hurrying between plots of corn, grape vines, peach trees, cilantro, and any other vegetables one could imagine. She and her husband are the garden managers, and have been maintaining the plot since they first moved to the neighborhood in the late 1980s. At that time, she explained while patting a patch of dirt around some budding bean sprouts, the plot was abandoned and covered in trash.

Little by little, Jeanette and her husband, along with Michael, another founder, cleaned up the lot. Jeanette taught herself how to garden, and still largely refuses assistance from the Green Thumb organization that officially supports the garden, preferring instead to purchase her own supplies from Home Depot. The golden days of the garden were in its early years, when the building next door, to which the lot belongs, funded its water supply. At that time, Jeanette said, the garden featured a beautiful pond with fish and frogs. Unfortunately, the building was unable to bear the financial burden long term, and the pond is no more.

Still, the Secret Garden in its current incarnation has a quirky aesthetic of its own, sporting Halloween spiders, Rastafarian bananas, miniature scarecrows, colorful pinwheels, and plastic frogs (an homage to years past, perhaps) among the foliage. Jeanette encourages any and all neighbors to come visit the garden although please, do not let your dog poop there.

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Secret Garden 1 Gardens Alphabet City East Village Loisaida
Secret Garden 2 Gardens Alphabet City East Village Loisaida
Secret Garden 3 Gardens Alphabet City East Village Loisaida
Secret Garden 4 Gardens Alphabet City East Village Loisaida
Secret Garden 5 Gardens Alphabet City East Village Loisaida

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More places on 4th Street

Lost Gem
Pageant Print Shop 1 Bookstores Family Owned undefined

Pageant Print Shop

Pageant Print Shop’s entirely glass storefront bordered by light blue is instantly eye-catching and proudly displays the treasure within. Inside its bright, buttercream interior, an immense assortment of old prints and maps line every wall and fill neatly-labeled display racks. This sanctuary of beautiful historical pieces was created by Sidney Solomon and Henry Chafetz in 1946. It was originally one of the many second-hand book stores on Fourth Avenue, an area that was then known as “Book Row. ” Now under the leadership of Sidney’s daughters, Shirley and Rebecca, Pageant Print Shop primarily sells old prints and is thriving at its current 4th Street location. Having worked with historic pieces her whole life, Shirley knows how to get the best prints. She has amassed her impressive collection from antique book auctions as well as other various sources that she has built up over the years. Roger, who has been working at Pageant Print Shop for over a decade, told Manhattan Sideways that “what we are looking for are old books with the bindings broken that are really not in very good shape on the outside, but still have good quality prints, maps, or illustrations on the inside. ” Although they search for old books based on the contents within, the shop also sells the old bindings for creatives looking to make decoupage and other fun art projects. Pageant Print Shop is definitely a fixture in the East Village, and in the words of Roger, is “one of those neighborhood jams. ” They enjoy “a loyal group of people that have been coming here for eons, " tourists looking for something authentically New York City, and neighborhood people walking by. He told us that newcomers are often “surprised that they are able to buy a piece of history, ” and return for more of their authentic, beautiful, and historic prints. Pageant Print Shop is unique in its extensive, high quality, and affordable selection. Roger affirmed that “It’s going to be hard for you to find someone who has this kind of a collection at these kinds of prices — it’s just true. ”