At the end of a pitched battle that lasted nearly a decade, residents of the Hawthorne Court, a 14-building apartment complex with an expansive landscaped backyard, can now walk on the grass. The 140-unit co-op was one of the last holdouts among a distinctive group of residences in this historic district of north-central Queens to lift its grass-walking ban.Keep Off the Grass signs are, to me, one of the most offensive violations of freedom dreamed up by the order fanatics. In the immortal words of Stranger in a Strange Land, it is in the karma of grass to be walked on. And, I would add, in the karma of children to run and play on it.
These apartment buildings were designed starting in the early 20th century by the Queensboro Corporation, with buildings that surround blocklong interior green spaces. For years, many of the co-ops mandated that the backyard be reserved for quiet contemplation. Reading a book or strolling the grounds was allowed so long as residents kept off the grass and stuck to designated walkways and benches. The lawn was not to be disturbed.
But over the last decade, a new wave of buyers moved into Jackson Heights, often paying significantly more than those who came before them, and bringing different ideas about how the gardens should be used. In one camp were the longtime residents who wished to preserve the tranquil nature of the gardens. In the other were the newcomers, primarily families with young children, who wanted to roll out picnic blankets and let their children run on the grass. Heated discussions of whether the latter should be permitted transpired, and rules were eventually loosened.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Walking on the Once Forbidden Grass
is drawing to a close: