Amidst upsetting news of a mysterious anti-arborist felling local trees over the summer and fall, it can feel even more important to express your appreciation for the local greenery while it’s still here. And that’s where the NYC Parks Department comes in. Have a tree you love? Nominate it!
Since 1985, NYC Parks has been searching for, and subsequently crowning, Great Trees throughout the city. And, sadly, only 65 of the original 120 Great Trees remain — hence the desire for a new search to grow the collection.
What makes a tree “great,” you wonder? It’s a matter of historic, botanical, and cultural significance, including trees that reflect and represent the diversity of the New York experience; are rarer, larger, or aesthetically more unique than their peers; or have a strong association with beliefs, people, places, or events of cultural importance.
And every neighborhood is welcome to participate in the search, so here are a few suggestions for nominees, per NYC Parks’ tree map.
The McCarren Park Pin Oak
Also known as a quercus palustris, this particular oak (tree number 4192154) near the McCarren Park track boasts a 36-inch diameter trunk and intercepts 7,122 gallons of stormwater, conserves 2,537 kWh of energy, and removes 6 lbs of air pollutants a year. It’s also a common hangout spot for the McCarren Park Hawk, so that must mean it’s pretty objectively great.
61 Nassau Avenue Bur Oak
While a bit more unassuming in size with just a 5-inch trunk diameter, no one can argue that this quercus macrocarpa (tree number 580881) is culturally insignificant. After all, it has bore witness to all of the businesses coming and going at the oft-considered-cursed Lorimer-Nassau corner (905 Lorimer St.) since at least 2017, when it was still home to Sauvage. It’s seen three more businesses in the spot since, including Ray’s Bar, another iteration of the Lower East Side pseudo-dive bar last week. If trees could talk…
Guernsey Street Thornless Honey Locust
You basically can’t go wrong with any of the trees on Guernsey Street, as they all contribute to the picturesque collection of gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis lining the street with branches bending inward to create a gorgeous shaded canopy of nature worthy of Bob Ross’s mood board. This one would also be an act of solidarity, as a honey locust was one of the — sadly multiple — trees chopped down by a mystery perpetrator this year.
McGolrick Park Eastern Redbud
McGolrick Park has no shortage of highly impressive trees worthy of your vote. However, the suggestion of the cercis canadensis alongside the playground is based on cool aesthetics alone, as captured in a photo by Friends of McGolrick Park Nature Walk guide and arbor and history enthusiast (in equal measure) John Kilcullen.