Two Bridges Rain Garden

Two Bridges Neighborhood Council has been awarded a Green Infrastructure Grant from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) for the construction of a rain garden at Two Bridges Tower.

The Rain Garden will provide:

  • New and improved seating/social areas
  • Shade and localized cooling benefits
  • Mitigation of particulate matter and hydrocarbon pollution generated by the FDR and South Street Truck Route
  • Training and educational opportunities for residents interested in gardening
  • A play area for children in the building as well as the Hamilton-Madison House Day Care & Headstart programs

The garden will be designed by dlandstudio, pllc, a multidisciplinary design firm based in Brooklyn. Check out ourAugust 2012 articlediscussing the opportunities for deploying green infrastructure throughout our neighborhood, including the rain garden at 82 Rutgers Slip. We thank our local elected officials for their ongoing support of this project: Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, State Senator Daniel Squadron, and Councilmember Margaret Chin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will there be standing water? No, the rain garden is designed to absorb water so that it does not run off into storm drains.

Will the rain garden prevent us from using the “back yard”? No, the rain garden is intended to provide a healthier, more pleasant and enjoyable social space, and to encourage its use.

I heard there will be sewage treatment back there. Is that true? No. Only clean rainwater is infiltrated into the rain garden—that’s why it is called a rain garden. The confusion may have arisen from the fact that we are keeping clean rainwater out of the storm sewer, and helping cut down on storm sewer overflows in rain events, which can cause sewage to be sent untreated from the sewer to the river. Only water that falls on the roof and surface of the 82 Rutgers Slip property will be absorbed in the rain garden.

I heard you are taking away our playground. Is that true? No. The current play equipment is out of date and in need of replacement. While the rain garden grant does not cover the cost of new equipment, Two Bridges is committed to working with residents and Hamilton-Madison House to design and implement an age-appropriate play area within the garden that will include both educational and physical recreational components.

What about furniture deliveries? All deliveries can still take place through the garden area. There will be a sidewalk, just like in the current design.

How Does A Rain Garden Work? Rain gardens cut down on the amount of stormwater being sent into storm drains by using plants to infiltrate rainwater. At 82 Rutgers, rainwater will be diverted from the building roof to a new lawn, trees and planting beds. Plants have a lot of surface area to capture raindrops and allow the water to slowly infiltrate into the soil below. A deep bed of gravel below the soil further slows the water so it has time to infiltrate completely.

What Else Does a Rain Garden Do? In addition to being functional, rain gardens can be beautiful. They also provide localized cooling benefits, shade, and improved air quality. On a south-facing exposure like 82 Rutgers Slip, summer sun can make it unbearably hot, and hard surfaces like concrete and paving trap and radiate this heat. A rain garden can help create a cooler microclimate in this area, making it more pleasant to sit, socialize or play.

Rain garden directly remove pollutants from the air. As an essential social space for residents, air quality is important. The residue of heavy vehicular exhaust– particulate matter–generated by the South Street Truck Route and the elevated FDR Drive can be seen on windowsills, and unseen chemicals in vehicular exhaust are suspended in the air in urban areas. Particulate matter and hydrocarbons from burning fossil fuels are extremely harmful if breathed in. Plants can trap particulates on their leaves; some can even break down environmental pollutants, like hydrocarbons, keeping them out of our soil, water and bodies.

Gardens have a proven positive impact on our mood and health. The rain garden at 82 will create opportunities for residents interested in gardening, and provide a living science laboratory for children participating in Two Bridges’ after-school and summer camp programs.

How Do Rain Gardens Help Protect Water Quality? New York City relies on an outdated sewer design called a “Combined Sewer Overflow” or CSO. During storm events, rainwater falling on hard surfaces like buildings, sidewalks and streets, runs off in to storm drains, bringing with it oils, trash, and other pollutants from the streets. The stormwater is combined with raw sewage and piped to sewage treatment plants. When overwhelmed by excessive stormwater runoff, CSOs divert the combination of polluted stormwater and raw sewage away from treatment plants, allowing it to flow directly into the surface waters around New York.

There are sixteen (16) CSO outfalls between the Brooklyn Bridge and Montgomery Street in the Two Bridges neighborhood, meaning that there are 16 pipes sending raw sewage and polluted stormwater into the East River every time there is a heavy rainfall. This is not only bad for the health of the river and animals that depend on it, but for the health of people living along it. In addition to smelling bad, raw sewage has the potential to spread infectious disease to those coming into contact with it.


Two Bridges provides leadership and advocacy to protect the interests of and to engage residents in the improvement of South Street and the East River Waterfront. We are pleased to partner with residents, other community-based organizations, and city agencies to address these concerns, for which we have advocated for over 30 years.

Since Hurricane Irene in August 2011 demonstrated the potential for contaminated water to flood the Two Bridges neighborhood, Two Bridges has been looking for ways to limit stormwater runoff, which pollutes our waterways, and to provide environmental benefits to the residents of our buildings in the low-lying East River Waterfront.

The vulnerability of our tenants and buildings, as evidenced by the experience of Superstorm Sandy and the realities of climate change, compels Two Bridges and Settlement Housing Fund, the sponsors of Two Bridges Tower, to address environmental issues in new, innovative ways.