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Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Rain Garden That Wouldn't Grow

Recently, my wife and I were out on a date and taking a stroll through Harlem before dinner when we stumbled on a dog relief area at the corner of Manhattan Avenue and East 122nd Street. I was excited and my wife was, well, glad to see me enjoying myself.

A few years ago while musing about planning for pets, I came across the French canisites. Now I had stumbled on one in my own town, and I hadn't even heard about it!

It is a wonderful little example of the transformation of a residual space. Initially it was a hatched area in the roadway where northbound traffic is diverted as Manhattan Avenue becomes a southbound one-way street. It was just the sort of dead space that was long common on our paved streets. In 2012, it was converted into a rain garden to improve storm water management and probably contribute a few count toward the Million Trees program, but the plants just wouldn't grow on the street side of the triangle. After a few years of the vegetation struggling and consistently dying off, it appears somebody had the genius to stop fighting the inevitable and repurpose the space to address the dog poop problem that is chronic on sidewalks throughout New York City.