Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Great Trees of New York City

Saturday April 26, 2014

Nothing in New York City is old.  Compared to other places almost everything we encounter in the city is new.  A friend in England once told me that she and her husband were buying an old house.  I'm thinking she's talking about a house that's a hundred years old and has fix-up issues.   The house she was referring to was from the 1600's.  Is there anything that old in the city other than the rocks in Central Park?

As these things go the Great Trees of NYC are old.  The Dinosaur on 163 St and St Nicholas Avenue dwarfs anything you'd normally see.  It's incongruous standing amidst parking meters, small groceries stores and people walking in the early morning sunshine.  The English Elm was alive when Washington stood underneath.  It was alive, and so was he.  At least two dozen people stopped to chat with us as we sketched.  What a wonderful friendly neighborhood.  I think our interest in their neighborhood tree made them stop to look in wonder at something they must pass everyday.  Isn't that what Urban Sketching is about?

The Dinosaur on 163rd Street

Washington Square Park is filled with old stately trees, but none was as old or as stately as The Hanging Tree.

The Hare Krishna Tree in Tompkins Square Park was less obvious than the other two trees.  It's in the middle of the park and nothing indicates that this particular tree has a story.  It might be slightly taller or somewhat older than the other trees, but it's not a dramatic or obvious thing.  We asked several people from the Park Department and they had never heard of the tree.

The strategy that helped us find the tree was some empathic detective work.  Asking the question, if you intended to address several hundred people, who would sit and listen, and then chant and eventually get up and dance, ... what tree would you pick?  Then the choice became obvious.  Confirmation came in the form of a tiny parks department sign 30' up that said - Hare Krishna Tree.

The Hare Krishna Tree


  1. Nice sketches of all 3 trees. I love the first seems to have take such root in its surrounding community!

  2. Beautiful! I love how you channeled three different Marks for each drawing! Hanging Tree is my favorite.

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