Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Last Tuesday a major wind and thunderstorm hit Manhattan, leaving dreadful tree damage in Central Park, parts of Randall’s Island and Harlem's Thomas Jefferson park. By Wednesday morning the NY Times reported more the 100 trees down in Central Park, most in the Northern third. Thursday morning after the Parks Department did a quick survey I got a group email from Douglas Blonsky the President of the Central Park Conservancy asking for donations. Restoration and repair estimates were projected at over $500,000, with millions more in lost value of trees and wildlife habitat. Blonsky reported over two hundred trees down, plus hundreds more damaged and possibly needing removal.On Sunday, morning I went out to see for myself. Workers had already dragged trees blocking roadways off to the side and had started removing hanging limbs; other areas were marked by yellow danger tape. A horse chestnut tree obstructed the path I wanted to take.
People were using the
park as they always did.
Runners on the East
Road focused straight
ahead, seeming oblivious
to the damage. Dogs
walked and peed, sniff-
ing new scents. Walkers,
readers, picnicers, and
soccer players continued
with their activities.
According to the last
tree census in Central
Park in 2008 there were
26,000 trees. Now one
to two percent are gone.
The Conservancy
announced that they’ll
rush to replace as many
of the fallen trees as
possible to prevent inva-
sive species like Norway
maples and Japanese
knotweed from taking over.
The 70 mph winds didn’t
seem to discriminate
between Tulip Trees,
Hickory, American Elm,
Sweet Gum, Sycamores,
and Horse chestnuts.
History of past loves will
disappear as well.
Double-click on this pic-
ture to enlarge, and
check the date 1918 on
the trunk.
The NY Times reports
that the wood cannot
be used for either lum-
ber or firewood because
of Asian Longhorn Beetle
restrictions, but it will
be shredded and shipped
to landfills. I don’t quite
get why that will be better.For the most part, The Conservatory Garden at E. 105th street seemed unscathed, though several damaged trees towering high over the Western edges of the garden, made the wisteria pergola unsafe and off limits. See damage near the top and center of the image.
To get more information and to donate to the Central Park Conservancy go to:
This Crape Myrtle was oblivious to the death and destruction beyond the garden.


Georgia said...

Haven't been to the park. Thanks for sharing your photos of the damage.

Although it's only a 2% loss, the downed trees were large in diameter. I wonder what percent of the large diameter tree population was lost.

Ellen Spector Platt said...

Georgia, I haven't seen any information related to your musings. A few of the huge trees reminded me of beached whales.But there were also plenty of big limbs jaggedly broken from still-standing trees. No way of knowing now what diseases are in store for those trees.

Frank said...

Thanks for posting this. As an avid weather watcher, I saw this storm passing over radar. The next morning, at 7 am, I was on a bus for Boston. We went around the park, crossing Manhattan at Central Park's northern boundary and I could see the damage tied to the radar I had watched the night before.

Always a shame, although it could've been worse.

Ellen Spector Platt said...

NYCG, As New Yorkers are we conditioned to think 'it could have been worse?' esp

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