There is no doubt that a walk in the park does you a world of good. Sit in the shade of a tree when the whole world around you is boiling and you know that you have got yourself a personal sanctuary under its strapping branches. As you look at the spring blooms unfolding in all their glorious beauty, dotting the tranquil flow of greenery we know that they gladden your heart with their vibrant energy. Butterflies dressed in a myriad of hues dance over flowers and birds of all shapes and sizes flit from one tree to another in a mad frenzy of activity. Who can say that such a sight doesn’t calm you down, smoothen the wrinkles on your brows, bring a smile to your lips, and make you forget your worries?
If you are looking to make a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple and wish to escape your strenuous routine for a few hours, make your way to the Enid A. Haupt Glass Garden. Located off the Rusk Institute lobby, it’s an ideal place for you to beat the oppressive heat and, to use a romantic expression, sit in the lap of nature.
The Glass Garden was originally built to offer a peaceful retreat to the patients of the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation. Anytime they wanted, they could leave the hospital walls and stroll into this garden to forget about the stress of the rehabilitation treatment they were undergoing. A short distance from the hospital and the clinical environment would melt away, letting them soak in the therapeutic quality of the gardens.
Taking a cue from this, Dr. Howard Rusk and Enid Haupt introduced one of the first horticultural therapy programs of the nation. The idea was to integrate horticultural therapy with medical therapy. Trained horticultural therapists worked with the patients. Today, the Glass Garden has become a public botanical garden, even as it continues to be a welcome respite for patients.
Part of the Glass Garden is a glass conservatory covering 1,700 square feet. It was opened in 1959 and was designed to be completely wheelchair accessible. It is the first facility in the whole world to do so. The conservatory has a stunning collection of ferns, orchids, bromeliads, succulents, palms, caudate, and insectivorous plants. This tropical oasis also has an aquatic garden where you can spot turtles, koi, goldfish, and catfish in the pond.
There is also a perennial garden that is spread over 4,500 square feet. It is located on the south side of the conservatory and has built-in seating, a secluded arbor and a barbecue. When the weather is pleasant, it is used as a classroom for horticultural therapy groups.
Children will be especially interested in the play garden that is located on the north side of the conservatory. On really sunny days, children can be seen muttering “oohs” and “aahs” and “wows” as a revolving prism structure projects rainbows, turning the entire area into a magical paradise. Certainly a sight to behold!
Location – 400 East 34th Street, between 1st Avenue and the East River
Telephone – 212-263-6058
Hours – Monday thru Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Weekends & Holidays: Noon to 6:00 p.m.