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Linden Sitting Area

Linden Sitting Area

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This small sitting space takes its name from adjacent Linden Boulevard. The street itself takes the name of the American linden trees (Tilia americana) that line its length. The land for the park was mapped as a public space after it was acquired in 1928 during proceedings about the boulevard.

Linden Boulevard was originally called Van Brunt Street in honor of a prominent family descended from Dutch colonists that lived in the area. Their first recorded ancestor in America was Rutger Joesten Van Brunt (c.1653-1718) who immigrated in 1653 to the town of New Utrecht, today a part of Brooklyn. Another Rutger Van Brunt (1757-1830) built the old mill on Bull Creek sometime in the late 18th century. In 1887, the Brooklyn Common Council changed the name of the street to Vienna Avenue, after the Austrian Capital. In 1924, the Common Council changed the name once again, this time calling it Lorraine Street, after the Lorraine region in eastern France.

Finally, the street was named for its majestic and versatile trees. Approximately 45 species of the linden tree are native to the eastern United States. In forests, the tree is commonly known as the basswood, but it has also been called the limetree and the bee tree. This last name seems most appropriate in late June and early July when the tree blooms creamy white, sweet-smelling blossoms. These attract swarms of bees seeking out the nectar necessary to distill a flavorful white honey, often considered the finest among aficionados.

The American Linden grows rapidly from seed and stump sprouts. It forms straight stems with clear lengths up to 70 feet. The tree itself yields soft, straight-grained wood used in building interiors and cabinetry, as well as for paper pulp. Fiber from its inner bark was historically used by Native Americans to make fishnets, mats, cords, and shoes. Teas made from the leaves of the tree are said to sooth colds, coughs, headaches, and stomachaches as well as provide for restful sleep.

Linden leaves are sharp-toothed and somewhat heart-shaped with a point at the tip. They are three to six inches long and turn yellow in the fall. The bark is usually grey and smooth but becomes grooved with age. Although the tree is native to the eastern United States, it is found as far South as Georgia and as far west as Nebraska and Texas. This hardy tree can tolerate most soils and can easily survive the harsh city climate, making it an ideal choice for planting in New York City along boulevards and in public parks.

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