West Village Model Karen Rempel cavorts in Jefferson Market Garden
WEST VILLAGE MODEL Karen Rempel frolics like a forest sprite in Jefferson Market Garden. Photo by Philip Maier.

By Karen Rempel

Summer is here and it’s time to put on your coolest whites and head for the mountains, forests, lakes, and beaches. If you can’t get away, the Jefferson Market Garden has never looked more lush. Stop in for a refreshing dose of oxygen, perambulate to view the rainbow flowers tucked into every corner, and visit the koi fish in the charming pond, complete with water lillies and papyrus.

In late June, I went to the Catskills for the first time. I booked a personal retreat at Menla, a Buddhist-inspired retreat center associated with Tibet House on West 15th Street. I hiked on solitary paths through the forest, and discovered a hidden sacred Buddha altar in a majestic ring of trees in the woods. It was truly magical and awe-inspiring. I laid down my burdens there, and emerged from the forest feeling light and free. Two butterflies danced at the edge of the trees, celebrating the joy of summer with me. I completed my sojourn with their unique Tibetan KuNye healing massage, to let the final remnants of stress and old patterns melt away.

I was delighted upon my return to the city to rediscover the Jefferson Market Garden, a true urban oasis. This magical spot in the city is run almost entirely by volunteers, but each inch is breathtaking and seems like nature just emerged fully formed from Gaea’s body. This used to be the site of a farmer’s market, and then an ornate Victorian courthouse (characterized by the New York Times after it opened in 1877 as “a jewel in a pig’s snout”), which is now our beloved Jefferson Market Library. Some of you old-timers may recall that a women’s prison was also on the site. Built in 1931, the house of detention was a raucous meeting place. At all hours, friends and family of the incarcerated women gathered under the windows to shout conversation and catch up on news with the inmates. It was demolished in 1973, after 42 years of use. I inquired and was informed that the library is scheduled to reopen in late September 2021 after renovations interrupted by the pandemic are complete.

When next you visit Jefferson Market Garden, read the plaque affixed to the fence for more fascinating details about the history of this triangle between 6th Avenue, West 10th Street, and Greenwich Avenue. I just discovered that Steve and Miranda from Sex and the City wed in Jefferson Market Garden. Yet another reason to hold it close to our hearts!

For more fun Philip Maier photos, go to

Style Notes

  • Buddhist-inspired silky Chelsea blue sun tunic with psychedelic patterns in orange, yellow, red, and turquoise, designed by Johnny Was. Tibet House’s Menla Retreat & Spa, Catskills, NY.
  • Summer’s best white cropped jeans. Ann Taylor Loft. New from Goodwill. 7 West 14th Street.
  • Skylar white ribbed cotton tank with lace trim. Brandy Melville. 61 Fifth Avenue.
  • Yellow and black honeycombed rubber strappy sandals. Jimmy Choo sample sale, 123 West 18th Street, invitation only.
  • Bijoux-bougie pearls, black diamonds, amethysts, and turquoises. Mademoiselle Mirabelle. 330 Bleecker Street (now closed, but Mirabelle Boutique is still open uptown, 1310 Madison Avenue).
  • Rainbow eye white beaded phone purse. Mademoiselle Mirabelle.
  • Fragrance: Salt eau de parfum. A creamy, beachy salty scent by Ellis Brooklyn. Blue Mercury. 404 Sixth Avenue.

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.”—Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)


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