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History of the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx

One of NYC's Finest Attractions Resides in Bronx Northern Neighborhoods

August 17, 2017 / Bronx Neighborhoods - Bedford Park & Norwood / Bronx Things to do / Bronx History / Bronx Buzz NYC.

 

ny botanical gardens bronx things to do bronxThe New York Botanical Gardens are located in the Bronx. While New York City has Botanical Gardens in three of its other boroughs [Queens, Brooklyn & Staten Island], only one - its best - bears the metropolitan city name. The botanical gardens in the other boroughs are competitive in their own right, but the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx is like few botanical gardens in the entire world.

Notable within the New York Botanical Gardens walls lie 50 acres of primordial landscape, largely kept intact from colonial and pre-colonial times. This tract of open landscape was once occupied by the Lenape Indians and is called the Thain Family Forest, named after the family that financed the preservation and enhancement of the forest, which has suffered many ravages since its inception.

The ravages to the primordial forest were first addressed in 1904 less than a decade after the site was dedicated to the NY Botanical Gardens. According to an NYT report the original footpaths led to the destruction of the hemlock grove, as the footpaths destroyed the shallow roots. In 1926 new hemlocks were planted, but in 1986 most of the hemlocks were destroyed when a hurricane blew in Asia beetles which destroyed most of the hemlocks that were left.

Also around 1904 a blight destroyed all but two of the original 1,500 chestnut trees. And Dutch elm disease wreaked havoc with the primordial forest elms. There were a number of other such intrusions, so the primordial forest is now a mix of old and new. A research paper provided by the NY Botanical Gardens outlined the work being done to mitigate aggressive intrusions into the forest over the past half decade or so.

Click here to read the rest of our report on the New York Botanical Gardens near the Bronx neighborhoods of Belmont, Bedford Park, Norwood and Fordham.


History of the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx

One of NYC's Finest Attractions Resides in Bronx Northern Neighborhoods

August 17, 2017 / Bronx Neighborhoods - Bedford Park & Norwood / Bronx Things to do / Bronx History / Bronx Buzz NYC. Continued.

bronx things to do bronxThe NY Botanical Gardens is also home to 7.8 million plant specimens, which may be found in their research herbarium. And they house what is considered by some to be the foremost research library about plant science and horticulture, which includes a copy of all of Charles Darwin's first editions.

It's also worth mentioning that they host a number of artistic and cultural events. Currently they are hosting a glass sculpture exhibit by American artist Dale Chihuli, through October. The connection between Chihuli's glass sculpture becomes obvious when you see photos of the Enid Haupt Conservatory.

The Haupt Conservatory has become the iconic symbol for the NY Botanical Gardens as it is a beautiful Victorian style example of an artistic glass conservatory greenhouse. In the Haupt Conservatory are a number of special exhibits, and in and around which many of the New York Botanical Gardens cultural events occur. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The NY Botanical Gardens also hosts a special Earth Day celebration every year, a Mother's Day celebration which I'm told is among their most popular weekends, an Orchid Festival held from mid February to early April, and a holiday train show that runs from sometime in November and which is taken down sometime in January.

The New York Botanical Gardens organization was founded in 1891. In 1895 New York City set aside 250 acres of land in the Bronx, which was selected in part, because the acreage contained 50 acres of primordial forest from pre-colonial times. The concept for the NY Botanical Gardens was inspired in part by the Royal Botanical Gardens found in the Kew neighborhood near London in 1888.

Two botanists, Nathaniel Lord Britton of Columbia University and his wife Elizabeth, led the founding of the gardens in 1891 as a non-profit organization in partnership with New York City and NY State. Calvert Vaux, who co-designed Central Park, laid out the design for the park, the historic landscapes of which have been restored in recent years. And according to the New York Botanical Gardens website [nybg.org] the botanical gardens set upon themselves a three-fold mission:

"... 1) to conduct basic and applied research on the plants of the world with the goal of protecting and preserving them where they live in the wild; 2) to maintain and improve the gardens and collections at the highest horticultural standard; and 3) to use the Garden itself as a venue for teaching the public about plant biology, horticulture, and the natural world generally."

The website continues telling us that

"the institution has amassed over 7,800,000 plant specimens in the research herbarium ... [the four largest in the world]; built the world's most important research library about plant science and horticulture; continued to steward this important American landscape; and taught millions of visitors to love and respect the world's flora."

The New York Botanical Gardens has four entrances and is open year round from 10 am to 5 pm. The entrances are as follows: 1) Conservatory Gate located at 2900 Southern Blvd, 2) Mosholu Gate on Southern Blvd between Mosholu Parkway and Bedford Park Blvd, 3) Bedford Park Gate at the corner of Southern Blvd & Bedford Park Blvd and 4) East Gate located at Waring Avenue & Bronx Park East.

The NY Botanical Gardens is adjacent to the Bronx Zoo and Fordham University and not far from the Bronx Little Italy on Arthur Avenue [dining & shopping on Fordham Road] and Mosholu Golf Course.


NY Botanical Gardens History - Bronx Neighborhood News

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