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The Broadsheet - Lower Manhattans Local Newspaper
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The Hanging Gardens of Lower Manhattan

A New Lease on Life for the Living Wall at the World Trade Center

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The Living Wall, on the north-facing abutment of the elevated Liberty Park, has adorned the facade of the World Trade Center’s vehicle security screening facility since 2016.

Particularly discerning Lower Manhattan residents have noted of late that an amenity hiding in plain sight seemed to be in danger of disappearing. For those who take the time to notice, the “living wall” at the World Trade Center is a unique combination of horticulture and architecture—a vertical garden that stretches 336 feet between West and Greenwich Street, and reaches 25 feet high, doubling as the wall of Liberty Park, the elevated greensward atop the complex’s vehicular security center.

When it debuted in 2016, the wall contained more than 22,000 seedlings, consisting of evergreen ground cover and flowering perennials. While these appeared to be a single, continuous landscape (albeit, one tilted by 90 degrees), they were actually rooted in 826 boxed panels mounted on metal racks invisible to observers and divided into an 18-zone drip irrigation system. The cumulative effective offered a slow-motion riot of color and texture, year-round.

Shortly after the start of this year, contractors began removing the panels, leading to fears that the Living Wall had been sentenced to death. Perish the thought. “Rest assured: the living wall isn’t going anywhere,” say Steve Burns, a spokesman for the Port Authority, which controls the World Trade Center site. “It’s getting an upgrade. The plants will thrive with a new, innovative soilless system, ensuring this unique green space remains a vibrant part of the World Trade Center.”

The Port Authority began testing a soilless system on the wall in 2022 and 2023. These trials demonstrated higher plant survival rates, as well as reduced operating and maintenance costs. This led to a redesign of the system, which is now being deployed over the full wall. The Port Authority, which has budgeted $850,000 for the project, expects it to be complete by this summer.

The Living Wall was one of the first U.S. rollouts of a new environmental push known as “green walls,” itself an extension of the earlier “green roof” movement. Among the environmental benefits cited by advocates, green walls can lower air temperatures both indoors and out, improve energy efficiency by insulating the structures they clad, boost air quality, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and reduce noise pollution by acting as an acoustic sponge. As a bonus, the structures are also known to provide habitats for birds and insects, which can be scarce in the hardscrabble urban environments.

Matthew Fenton

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Charity Begins at Homeroom

Meta-Philanthropic Project by Teens Aims to Put Nascent Not-for-Profits within Alms Reach

Three local high school students with backgrounds in leading non-profits have founded an accelerator to help other young leaders do the same. Andy Xian and William Li (both juniors at Stuyvesant High School, and Niv Levy (a junior at the High School for Environmental Studies) developed Surreality, a not-for-profit that helps teens kickstart their own public-service projects. “The name comes from our goal of surmounting obstacles to translate visions that seem like dreams into reality,” Andy explains. Read more...

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FACT or Fiction?

Eight-Figure Tax Break to Spruce Up Vacant FiDi Office Tower

The administration of Mayor Eric Adams has decided to confer a tax benefit of more than $40 million on an empty office tower in the Financial District. This largesse is being offered in exchange for a promise by the owner of 175 Water Street to undertake extensive renovations aimed at transforming the vacant structure into top-quality commercial space and filling it with prosperous office tenants, thus sparking financial frisson that will boost the local economy. Read more...


Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment and Services, For Sale & Free

Up to 25 words. Four placements. FREE. Write to [email protected]


in Downtown area. Experienced. 

Excellent references. Live out.

Call Jackie at 718-340-9536.


Specializing in all school grade levels. Phone 862-596-7645, email [email protected]


Notary services delivered to your door. 16+ years experience serving Downtown. Rates start @ $150.

Call 646-541-3076 for a quote.


Text Paula at 917-836-8802


Roses are red, violets are blue.

I love your dog. Youre okay, too.

Get ready to publish your Valentine in the Broadsheet Personals column on Feb. 14! Up to 25 words. Free. Send to [email protected]

by 5pm Feb. 13.


Summer rental.

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Monday, January 29

Domino Effect

Fosun Plaza, 28 Liberty Street

Domino Effect is an interactive light-and-music show presented by the Downtown Alliance in partnership with Quartier des Spectacles International. More than 100 giant dominos are distributed across 12 tables in Fosun Plaza, each with its own color and sound. Visitors collaborate on creating an orchestra of sound and light. On view through March 6.


Plant Swap/Seed Share

New Amsterdam Library

Bring plants, cuttings and seeds to exchange. Free.


Seaport Museum Book Club

South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton Street

Maritime-themed book club.

Tuesday, January 30


Meeting of the Members of the Battery Park City Authority



Mah Jongg & More

200 Rector Place

Join a dedicated group of Mah Jongg enthusiasts for friendly games, or try your hand at other card and board games.

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2018 photograph © Robert Simko

[email protected]

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