The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), in collaboration with Snap Inc. and the Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA), today announced the launch of “Botanica,” an augmented reality (AR) experience that allows visitors to the Newtown Creek Nature Walk to learn about the local ecology through the interactive medium of AR on Snapchat. Brought to life by public, private, and non-profit partners, the educational experience is built for DEP’s Newtown Creek Nature Walk, which is situated on the banks of the Creek and stretches from Paidge Avenue to Kingsland Avenue in the Greenpoint neighborhood. Botanica is now available, letting friends grow a digital garden together and learn about more than 25 native flowers and plants found in the local ecosystem.

“The Newtown Creek Nature Walk is a hidden gem of New York City that provides uninterrupted public access to the waterfront and we are excited to join with Snapchat and the Newtown Creek Alliance to help engage visitors as they learn about the region’s history and native flora,” said DEP Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala.

“Because augmented reality is grounded in the real world, it’s a powerful medium to enhance the places we love today,” said Sophia Dominguez, Director of AR Platform Partnerships and Ecosystem at Snap Inc. “By connecting the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Newtown Creek Alliance with a Snap Lens Network developer, together we’re bringing a new dimension of learning and exploration to Newtown Creek Nature Walk visitors.”

“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,” said Willis Elkins, Executive Director of the Newtown Creek Alliance. “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.”

Visitors can access Botanica by scanning the Snapcode at the Nature Walk’s entrance. Up to five friends can play in the same Lens, whether they’re all physically together at the Nature Walk or elsewhere in the world. Friends select a flower bed from the Lens menu and place it in the physical environment with a tap. Players pollinate each flower by tapping on the flower bed, and as it blooms, the flower reveals its name and care tips through a fact card. Botanica is one of the first AR Lenses to leverage Lens Cloud services within Lens Studio, Snap’s AR creation tool, allowing friends to interact together in more robust and compelling AR experiences.

The Newtown Creek Nature Walk is located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, along Newtown Creek and Whale Creek, and adjacent to the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility. Richly planted with native trees, shrubs and other flora, the Nature Walk revives a long-inaccessible industrial shoreline for public use as a waterfront promenade. The Nature Walk was doubled in length in 2021.

The Nature Walk was created by environmental sculpture artist George Trakas in collaboration with landscape architect Quennell Rothschild & Partners as a commission of DCLA’s Percent for Art program. It received an Award for Excellence in Design from the Public Design Commission in 2016. Since 1982, New York City’s Percent for Art law has required that one percent of the budget for eligible City-funded construction projects be spent on public artwork. Managed by DCLA, the program has commissioned hundreds of site-specific projects in a variety of media by artists whose sensibilities reflect the diversity of New York City.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high quality drinking water each day to nearly 10 million residents, including 8.6 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 in the upstate watershed. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $20.1 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

The Newtown Creek Alliance is a community-based organization dedicated to restoring, revealing and revitalizing Newtown Creek. We work to restore community health, water quality, habitat, access, and vibrant commerce along Newtown Creek. Since 2002, the Alliance has served as a catalyst for effective community action.