While walking back home from my grandmother's apartment along Courtlandt Avenue, I had the pleasure of entering Restoration Garden located between East 154th and East 155th Streets. Unlike the location of the other gardens in the neighborhood which are mostly on quiet side streets, Restoration Garden sits right in the middle of the craziness that can be Courtlandt Avenue. Directly across from New York City Public Housing, aka "the projects" and more affectionately known as the PJs, the garden offers a refuge for those who choose to walk through its gates.
According to local resident, Nelson (last name withheld), the garden has been there for over 25 years and had recently within the past 5 years received financial support from generous donors which they utilized to spruce up the place. The names and families of the various donors are engraved in plaques or some of the red paving stones that make up the steps and patio area.
As with almost every single garden in the neighborhood, The Bronx and throughout the rest of the city, these gardens feature the "casitas" or little houses which are reminiscent of a not too distant past in Puerto Rico where mostly every home outside the cities were just small wooden shacks. These community gardens and casitas are a little slice of home for so many residents and they come in to unwind, gossip, play a friendly game of dominoes, watch the game, etc. Thanks to the casitas, rain or shine, people can still enjoy the gardens!
Each garden in the area has its own unique style, decor and feel to them so make sure you explore each and every one of them. As time progresses, Welcome to Melrose will provide a map of all community gardens within the area as well as hours of operation for your convenience. Next time you happen to be in the area if you are not a resident, come on in sit for a while...chat with the locals...they are very friendly and love to chat!
"We Honor The Fallen..." I guess it's open to
interpretation who the fallen are but considering
how many have died in the community during its violent past
as well as those who succumbed to HIV/AIDS it is befitting of the community.