Screenshot 2019-07-29 at 12.56.34 PM.png
Posts in Nature & Environment
The Earliest Sculptures in Central Park

The Earliest Sculptures in Central Park

By Dianne Durante

In Olmsted and Vaux’s Greensward Plan, the only sculpture was one atop the fountain at the center of Bethesda Terrace. The commission for the sculpture was given in 1863 to Emma Stebbins (1815-1882), an American-born sculptor working in Rome who happened to be the sister of a member of the Board of Commissioners of Central Park.

This post is an excerpt from the author's new book, Central Park: The Early Years.

Read More
The Tree That Still Grows in Brooklyn, And Almost Everywhere Else

The Tree That Still Grows in Brooklyn, And Almost Everywhere Else

Catherine McNeur

The Tree of Heaven, or Ailanthus, gained fame in 1943 as a symbol of endurance in Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. In this book about a plucky, determined girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, the tree seemed to embody her spirit. It thrived in cities while other plants withered. As Smith put it, “No matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out of cement. It grew lushly, but only in the tenement districts.” Today, if you ask an urban forester about Ailanthus trees, you’ll find that it’s exactly that kind of resilience that they find most frustrating. Today the Tree of Heaven is considered an invasive species and a problem to be solved. This was not always the case.

Read More