For the first time in all its history Manhattan Island is threatened with becoming entirely an urban place and harboring no farms within its limits.★ Census figures announced yesterday revealed that the farms in New York County had dwindled from five in 1920 to one in 1930. And Mrs. Joe Benedeto, lessee of the final farm, said last night that her little block of vegetables at 213th Street and Broadway is about to be obliterated by the encroachments of the city, thus divorcing Manhattan from agriculture forever.
A part of the cabbage patch has been shaded for a long time by a sign reading "Entire Block for Sale or Lease." A few days ago, according to Mrs. Benedeto, it was almost sold; so it was that standing knee-deep in corn, Benedeto shook a defiant pitchfork at the skyscrapers that loom to the south of his little garden. But he knew it was no use.
As he stood there a subway train rushed over the Tenth Avenue trellis that casts its early morning shadow across his vegetables. Frightened by the roar, his few chickens clucked and huddled. Silently, he returned to the red brick farmhouse under the subway.
Yesterday afternoon several neighbors sat sullenly in the farm yard, shelling corn. They said very little. When they spoke it was to tell of the farms they too had once owned, but which had now become apartment houses or new yards for the Interborough subway.
"I had two farms within a block of here once, but the subway took them," said Peter Rhere, now a caretaker for the city. "I am getting disgusted with the town: there is nothing to live for, nowhere to go. When I need a little amusement, I come here to weed and get my hands in honest soil again. I shall leave the city when this farm is sold." The others nodded gravely.
"Farm life is happier, more comfortable," Rehre continued. "These____________________