New York Chinese Scholar's Garden – Staten Island, New York - Atlas Obscura

New York Chinese Scholar's Garden

This small and serene place for quiet reflection on Staten Island was built in China based on the gardens of the Ming Dynasty. 


Staten Island doesn’t have the reputation of a place one can go to feel like a poet or scholar in Ming Dynasty China, but it is one of the best places in the U.S. for doing just that.

The Chinese Scholar’s Garden, part of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, is a recreation of Ming Dynasty Chinese gardens. It was built by 40 Chinese artisans in Suzhou City, and then shipped to the United States

Made with traditional Chinese construction techniques, nails and glue do not hold anything together, including the building that half-hovers over the lake. Rock formations, a bamboo forest, and a waterfall are meant to inspire the same sort of harmony and peace Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist monks and scholars have sought in similar gardens over the centuries.

Cultural events like live performances are often held amidst the pavilions and bridges. A koi-filled pond is the cherry on top of the authentically adorned little garden. It is further decorated with paintings, mosaics, calligraphy, and indigenous Chinese plants like rhododendrons and lilacs.

Know Before You Go

The S40 travels from St. George Ferry Terminal along Richmond Terrace straight to Snug Harbor. From the entrance it's a straight walk down Cottage Row. Admission for adults is $5. A combo pass is also available for admission to the nearby Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art. Winter hours are Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m-4 p.m. 

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