Last month we visited some secret gardens around the city, including the New York Earth Room at 141 Wooster Street (between Prince and Houston). The room is actually on the second floor of a swank old residential building, and since the late 1970s it has been filled with dirt.
The room opened to the public in 1980, just a few years after Dia Art Foundation commissioned artist Walter De Maria to create it in 1977. He had created two other Earth Rooms (in Germany) prior to this, but the one on Wooster Street is the only one to remain. Dia—or rather Bill Dilworth, the room's caretaker—has maintained the apartment since, with weekly upkeep such as watering and raking of the soil.
In an interview, Dillworth explained that "people always wonder what it means. But the artist never attached any meaning to it. So I think what I really want people to know is that they don’t have to know anything about the work." He sees anywhere from a handful to 100 people per day when the room is open, and it just opened again for the season (it is closed every summer).
Inside you'll find an earthy smell, and 250 cubic yards of soil filling 3,600 square feet of prime real estate. Admission is free, and they ask that you only view the work, do not take photos and "do not touch." And certainly do not mud wrestle.