Allen Street Mall’s Stalwart Caregiver Justen Ladda

Allen Street Mall – one of our Sister parks – a few blocks away:


From The History of the Allen Street Mall website (a great read):

“The history of this project goes back to at least 1997, when I was selected by the Department of Cultural Affairs to be the artist to work with Chris Crowley, an architect at the New York Department of Parks and Recreation, on a design for the Allen Street Mall segment between Delancey and Broome Streets. Over several years we developed 32 distinct designs and after many changes arrived at the final version which is reflected in the model. We had a great working relationship and I learned a lot about park design and the strange workings of city government from him.
In 2005 the project was given to the landscape architects Able Bainnson Butz to finish.They finalized the design to what it is now. I am especially grateful for their choice of plants which have stayed alive without being watered and survived under less than ideal conditions….” Read more here.

Justen continues to care for the Park as a volunteer tending to plantings and the rock design itself.

He imported the rocks here from China. They are beautifully and thoughtfully arranged. He writes:  “they were shaped by water, I only carved one side of one”

He designed their placement and the plantings around them and tends to them which he says he will “do forever.” 

In answer to questions about the benches (The SDR Coalition receives a number of them):

The original sturdy and comfortable benches (“world’s fair benches”) were replaced. They were removed (along with the old style light fixtures – pictured on Justen’s site under Allen Street Mall 2008) and replaced by new benches when some new re- design for the whole mall was implemented.

Unfortunately we think the slats will likely fail again as they were cut out of stock which weakens the integrity of the slats. Apparently in order to have curved slats the wood would have to be steamed and bent, which is much more expensive.

He has added about 90 new plants in the fall is not finished yet!

For more and beautiful photos and history: here is Justen Ladda’s site

He says the biggest need for the Allen Park is fertilizer which has not seen any since it opened in 2008!

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