March 3, 2015
New York City's Flower District
Amidst the maniacal pace of New York City's morning rush lie pockets of magic that will ease the most disgruntled of commuters. One such area is the lush, block-long horticultural oasis that is Manhattan's Flower District.
by Nicole Haddad photographer Nicole Haddad
On both sides of 28th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, a concentration of floral and plant wholesalers and retailers offers everything from Green Trick to Heliconias, tulips, plant and tree varieties, and pottery. While most florists hit the market at 5:00 a.m., the wholesalers' opening hour, to outfit their shops, visitors who just want to partake in the visual and fragrant floral feast should arrive between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. By that time the hustle and bustle of the early morning vendors has calmed, but plants and trees still line the street, creating a leafy passageway that seemingly transports one out of the gritty city.
Regardless of which shop you enter, the sensory experience is unforgettable. Mahir, a floral and event design shop on the block, generally imports its flowers directly from the Aalsmeer Flower Auction in the Netherlands. Other shops such as Caribbean Cuts own farms where they grow tropical flowers and foliage native to that region. Stephan Weishaupt, president of Avenue Road, a home design showroom and relative newcomer to the area states: "We are just above the market, and when you open the windows, especially in the summer, the smell of fresh-cut flowers wafts into the showroom."
GETTING THERE The most direct route is to take the 1 train to the 28th Street station.
TIP Not all shops sell strictly to the trade, but prepare to shop in bulk rather than by stem.
MORNING BREW In 2014, Analisse Taft, the founder of ALT for Living, a design showroom located in the heart of the district, decided to cater to the bleary-eyed traipsing up and down the block and opened up the boutique-style café, ALT - A Little Taste at the store front. The aroma of hand-roasted beans and fresh pastries adds the perfect touch to the already ambrosial block.