Back in April 2011, Paula Z. Segal obtained a spreadsheet that indicated all the publicly-owned, vacant public land in Brooklyn. She tallied up the areas of each lot and got the number 596 — a total area slightly bigger than Prospect Park — and 596 Acres was born.
Segal created a map of the information and started distributing it. The organization continues to build tools to help neighbors realize the potential for green spaces focused around community organizing and civic engagement.
Our tools help neighbors see vacant lots as sites of opportunity for green spaces in neighborhoods that lack them. We activate imaginations, initiate campaigns to legally get the keys to previously inaccessible vacant lots, and ultimately unlock more than just the gates. Through collaborative organizing residents become active stewards of urban land.
Now you can access their map in an interactive format at Living Lots NYC. You can check and see if there are any open lots near you, and if people are already organizing to reclaim that space for community use.
They’ve also reported recently that NYC has sold 202 city-owned lots to developers for $1 each, just since Mayor deBlasio took office in 2014.