Three decades ago, New Yorker Jose Torres helped his mother Alicia and other neighborhood volunteers turn a rubble filled lot on 7th street in Manhattan’s East Village into a community garden. Esperanza Garden became a symbol of the neighborhood and a much-loved community space.
But in 2001, city bulldozers arrived to dismantle the garden. They were met by gardeners, some of whom had chained themselves inside a huge wire and canvas watchtower constructed in the shape of a frog. The incident was the latest battle between then-mayor Rudolph Guiliani and community activists over the use of abandoned city owned property. Jose’s diary documents the fight to save Esperanze Garden.