Clinton Garden is a striking testament to the power of residential communities in New York. One of the earliest examples of urban agricultural reclamation, the garden was created in 1979 in a lot that had been abandoned for twenty-eight years. Seeing potential in the space and hoping to improve the area around the neighborhood, residents (with the help of Operation Green Thumb, which leased the lot from the city) transformed the VACANT property into a garden using reclaimed and salvaged bricks, concrete, and slate. Finding the gates open on a beautiful spring Saturday, I wandered in and strolled down the paths filled with magnificent flowers and shrubs. I also met committed people tending to their small plots of land, of which there are now over one hundred. I have since been back many times, as I think this is a magnificent retreat on those days that I am in a need of a place to rest while walking the side streets of Manhattan.
Walking down West 51st street towards the river, I came upon a little garden located in the yard outside of a public housing development. The gate into the garden was locked, but looking through the fence, I could see beautiful wildflowers, herbs, and even some unripe tomatoes.The manager of the Mobil gas station across the street told me that he remembered when the garden was a VACANT lot where drug addicts slept at night. No longer - in 1993, the space was transformed and named after community member and active gardener Juan Alonso. It has been open to the community ever since, save a brief period of time in 2000 when the public housing it surrounds was renovated. Emblematic of the regrowth of Hell's Kitchen over the past two decades, it provides a space for locals, especially low-income residents, to come together and grow food for themselves and their families.The park and community garden is only one of several such green spaces in the area, all created and maintained by the organization CultivateHKNY, which aims to promote community through the revitalization of shared spaces. Any community member who wants a key to the garden can purchase one for only two dollars and start cultivating their own small plot of land. For the rest of us, the garden is open on the weekends in the early afternoon, and can always be appreciated from the sidewalk.
Fig & Olive is Mediterranean-inspired dining in its most exquisite form. On my first visit to this location, I was drawn in by the collection of wine and olive oil bottles lining the walls and the chic rustic decor that feels reminiscent of eating in the Italian countryside. Never has there been a time when I have dined at one of the several Fig & Olives in Manhattan, that I did not have an excellent experience. I have feasted on fresh ingredients assembled into delectable creations. I was thrilled to take the Manhattan Sideways team here for lunch one day where they raved over the selection of crostini and devoured the mouthfuls of perfectly paired ingredients – goat cheese and caramelized onion, for example – heaped onto small squares of fresh bread. Another favorite that I introduced them to was the zucchini carpaccio served with lemon and olive oil. We accompanied the meal with a beautifully presented Cucumber Cosmos and Rossellinis, selected from the extensive cocktail menu.
McKinney Welding Supply has been a fixture in Hell’s Kitchen since 1943. This long-running business is family-owned and employs about thirty-five people, ten of them being family members. Allen Dickon, branch manager of the West 52nd Street store, told us "We are the only place in Manhattan where you can find all of your welding and compressed gas products under one roof.”