View of Elgin Botanic Garden in 1801
Today, New Yorkers get to enjoy lush landscapes and beautiful plantings at the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden and the 52-acre Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but these outdoor oases weren’t founded until 1891 and 1910, respectively. About 100 years prior, a public botanic garden sprouted up on 20 acres of land at what is today Rockefeller Center, and it was the first such garden in the nation.
Elgin Botanic Garden was founded in 1801 by Dr. David Hosack, a physician, botanist, and educator, perhaps best known for serving as the doctor to Alexander Hamilton after his duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. He used his own money to purchase and landscape the grounds, and by 1805 it was home to more than 1,500 plant species, which he studied for medicinal purposes.