Comfortably sandwiched between the famed Newtown Creek and the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Newtown Creek Nature Walk is beautiful this time of year.

But don’t just take our word for it — what it lacks in plant life due to rapidly cooling temps (this week, at least) can be made up for with a new augmented reality Snapchat lens dreamed up by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Snap Inc., and the Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA).

The goal of Botanica, the aforementioned interactive experience, is to teach passersby about the various native plants and flowers in the ecosystem of this tucked-away hidden gem of Greenpoint.

In a press statement for the DEP, Newtown Creek Alliance Executive Director Willis Elkins said, “The Nature Walk has helped transform our communities’ relationship with Newtown Creek through educational features that engage visitors with the local history, ecology, geology, and wildlife habitat. We are excited to be working with NYC DEP and Snap Inc. in finding new ways to expand engagement and education opportunities at this unique waterfront space.”

To engage with the filter, you scan the Snapcode at the entry of the nature walk (bright yellow, you can’t miss it). And for those with better cell service than me, you’ll be transformed to a mini garden featuring photos of virtual Animal Crossing-esque plants and flowers. By tapping the screen, you’re able to “plant” and “grow” your own cartoon flora, all culminating in a mini education on the plant itself. Despite my own complete lack of green thumb (and literal thumb covering the camera the majority of the time), I managed to grow both a Jacob’s Ladder and a Bluebonnet. And for those seeking a partner activity, there’s an option to merge gardens and plant with friends nearby.


Augmented reality plants are not necessarily what comes to mind when we think of making greener improvements to Greenpoint, but hey, we’ll take it.

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  1. Love NCA and the nature walk but let’s be real, this app is pointless. Hopefully this didn’t cost anything, there are better (i.e. greener) uses for that money.

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