About Friends of Bogardus Plaza

 

What ?

 

A 501c3 non-profit organization formed by volunteer downtown residents to manage and maintain Bogardus Plaza, a public predestrian plaza on Hudson Street between Reade and Chambers streets.

 

Why ?

 

The mission of the Friends of Bogardus Plaza is to foster community interaction in lower Manhattan by managing a space that is accessible to all, well maintained, and enriched by year-round free programming.

 

Who ?

 

Victoria Weil, President

Anne Patterson, Vice President

Jean Raazi, Treasurer

Sangeeta Prasad, Asst. Treasurer

Judith Roberts, Secretary

Max Cohen

Douglas Moss

Andrea Pivnick

Eve Herzog Robbins

George Olsen

 

About Bogardus Plaza

Who is James Bogardus?

Bogardus Garden was named after renowned 19th-century pioneer of cast-iron architecture, James Bogardus. It was the success of Bogardus’ cast-iron structures that ultimately lead to the widespread adoption of steel frame building construction still used in modern-day skyscrapers­.  In the 1970s and 80s, Bogardus’ work garnered a following of local cast-iron enthusiasts including famed preservationist, Margot Gayle. Gayle hosted walking tours throughout lower Manhattan originating from this once small, concrete traffic island she later lobbied to have named in Bogardus' honor.

From Triangle to Garden

Over the years, with the help of several different community groups and volunteers, the once litter-filled traffic triangle bearing Bogardus’ name was transformed into a gated garden that thrived throughout the 1980s and 1990s. But by the early 2000s, the garden became a neglected space filled with trash, weeds and rodents.  Many of the original volunteers that had lobbied to create the garden had since moved out of the neighborhood and community at large was unaware that the site was not the responsibility of the city. That's when Friends of Bogardus Plaza (FBP) formed a 501c3 organization and took over the management of the site and began developing plans to increase community engagement and revitalize the space.

From Garden to Plaza

In 2010, when FBP found out that the NY Department of Transportation (DOT) planned to close the street adjacent to the garden (Hudson St. between Reade and Chambers streets) for a 3-year-long reconstruction project, the group became worried. The small stretch of Hudson Street adjacent to the garden was about to become a holding area for construction equipment and Port-o-Potties. Instead, FBP propsoed that the DOT transform the street into a temporary pedestrian plaza. With tables, chairs and planters provided by DOT, plus donations from the community and local businesses, FBP created a temporary plaza. FBP maintained the site and hosted free community events each spring and fall for the duration of the city's construction project. In 2011, Community Board 1 voted to make the plaza a permanent part of the community and FBP embarked on what would become a decade-long campaign to redesign and reconstruct the plaza into a purpose-built public space with more greenery, seating and 24-hour lighting.

The Plaza Reimagined 

In 2020, after successfully fundraising nearly $2M and 2 years of construction delays, the newly designed plaza reopened to the public. The plaza's $75,000/year maintenance costs remain the sole responsibility of FBP. Every aspect of the plaza's upkeep– from its daily set up and break down to twice-daily cleaning and trash removal, to seasonal plantings and garden care– is funded by donations and managed by FBP's small team of volunteers and vendors.  In addition, Friends of Bogardus Plaza host free, family-friendly events throughout the year to help build community awareness of the plaza and its on-going need for local support.  FBP is constantly developing new ways to build interest in the plaza and is eager for new neighbors to join its efforts. If you'd if you'd like to support FBP, please consider making a donation today and/or volunteering .