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WSJ Critic Likes New Queens Plaza Park But Hates the Benches

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For his latest Urban Gardner column in the Journal, Ralph Gardner visited New York's newest, er, urban garden, Queens Plaza. The plaza recently finished a $45 million makeover lead by landscape architect Margie Ruddick, who transformed the pothole-ridden barren lot into a serene greenway and park. Gardner says the project is "shining proof of the power of enlightened urban planning, talent, taste, trees and other plants and, perhaps most of all, positive thinking to minimize, if not wholly eradicate, the effects of an otherwise hostile environment."

His biggest beef with the new green space is the straight-backed benches: "As far as I'm concerned, there are only two kinds of benches?comfortable and uncomfortable. And to succeed, their backs must be angled. There should be a law." He also takes issue with the fact that there is no water feature and Ruddick planted sumacs, which Gardner thinks is a "super weed." Nonetheless, he concedes that the greenway is a successful urban oasis, despite the screeching train tracks above and speeding traffic on either side. You can explore the plaza for yourself in Nathan Kensinger's photo essay.
· In Queens, An Artistic Alteration [WSJ]
· Exploring Queens Plaza's New Dutch Kills Green Park [Curbed]