Jackson Heights Garden Tours

Jackson Heights was the first planned garden community in the US. Many of the pre-war garden apartment co-op buildings in the neighborhood were built in the roaring 20’s by one developer.  The developer’s vision was to provide a quiet, suburban lifestyle for middle to upper middle class families from Manhattan.  This vision included private block-long gardens or parks encased in each building.  It is hard to believe now, but this neighborhood had a country club atmosphere, complete with a golf course!  The golf course is no more, but thankfully, the buildings and gardens survived. The buildings are currently located in a designated NYC historic district.

Most of the gardens cannot be seen from the sidewalk.   These hidden gems are open to the public only one weekend a year, in what has now become known as the Jackson Heights Garden Tours.  The tours usually cover eight or nine gardens.  Some gardens are more carefully cultivated than others, but they are all beautiful in their own way.  I don’t know how well-known these tours are outside of Queens, but they are not to be missed by anyone in the city.  You may think you know Jackson Heights by having eaten at Jackson Diner and having strolled down the rest of that block with all the Indian saris and jewelery shops, but you have not really seen its other facets without having gone on a tour of the historic district.

It doesn’t make sense for me to do the tour and then do a post about it after the fact, since I want to get you excited about doing a tour yourself.  Instead, I will present you with pictures I took from a tour I did in 2005.  This should give you a sense of what is in store for you.  Hopefully you will not get too much garden envy  ^_^

* Please excuse the overexposure on these pics.  I didn’t have much in the way of camera skills back then!

The Belvedere garden has a more casual, grassroots feel to it.
JH garden tour- Belvedere 3

The Chateau garden has more of a manicured look, complete with stone benches and a cute little fountain (not pictured).
JH garden tour- Chateau 7

The Elm Court garden is a big lawn.  You just want to run zigzag amongst the trees!
JH garden tour- Elm Court 1

The Hampton Court garden had a lot of wildflowers, making it feel more like a free spirit.  It also has an extensive lawn (not pictured).
JH garden tour- Hampton Court 8

The Hawthorne Court garden also has its own lawn space.  Do I sound like a broken record now?
JH garden tour- Hawthorne Court 1

Due to the configuration of trees, the Linden Court garden is very shady and feels more secluded than the others.
JH garden tour- Linden Court 3

The Towers garden is, of course, known for its towers.  It is secondarily known for its spooky griffins that guard the gates (not pictured).  I am not sure if anything special happens among the columns on midsummer’s night.  If you really want to know, you will have to become a resident!
JH garden tour- Tower 5

Note: These pictures from 2005 are probably not exact representations of how the gardens look today, but they should be similar enough.  You have to factor in that some gardens have evolved over time based on residents’ tastes.

The tour on June 18th is self-guided.  The gardens are open to the public from 12pm to 4pm.  You will need to purchase a $10 ticket to get a map.  You can buy tickets on the morning of June 18th in front of the Community Church at 81st St and 35th Ave, or you can buy tickets beginning June 1st at Espresso 77 (35-57 77th St) or at Beaudoin Realty Group (78-27 37th Ave, Suite 5, Second Floor) on weekdays from 11am to 5 pm.

The tour on June 19th is led by a guide and will cover a walk around the historic district as well as some of the gardens.  The starting point is at 12pm in front of the Community Church. Tickets are $10 for this tour as well.  Due to its popularity, the escorted tour requires a ticket purchased in advance.

If you want to do the tours on both days, it is only $15 total.  The proceeds from the ticket sales benefit the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, which, among other things, brightens up the sidewalks each spring with flowers planted beneath the trees.

The raindate for the tours is June 25th.

The quickest way to get to the starting point for each tour is to take the 7 train to the 82nd St station and walk north from there until you hit 35th Ave.


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4 Responses to “Jackson Heights Garden Tours”

  1. gargupie Says:

    Thanks! It’s nice to see a different view of Jackson Heights aside from the Indian side.

    • TheOutdoorNewYorker Says:

      Yeah, a lot of visitors see the commercial side, but don’t stick around long enough to see the really nice architecture around here. The prewar co-op buildings are stunning!

  2. Jocy Says:

    Neat! I’ve always wanted to go… but just never did! =)

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