Daily Plant Masthead

Volume XXIII, Number 4658
Monday, Mar 03, 2008

A Tree And A Legacy Grow In Brooklyn

Nancy Smith Pfeiffer, daughter of Betty Smith, joins students from P.S. 132;
Nancy Smith Pfeiffer, daughter of Betty Smith, joins students from P.S. 132;
Photo by Malcolm Pinckney

Betty Smith was one of Brooklyn’s most prolific writers, best known for her masterpiece, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Last Thursday, the Brooklyn Public Library honored the late Ms. Smith and Parks joined the commemoration by dedicating a tree outside of the Leonard library branch featured in the novel.

On February 28, Commissioner Benepe joined Betty Smith’s daughter, Nancy Smith Pfeiffer; Brooklyn Public Library Director of Neighborhood Services Linda Portera; Brooklyn Public Library Cluster Leader Cynthia Woronowicz; World War II veteran John Slagg; children from P.S. 132; and members of the Friends of Leonard Library; to honor Betty Smith and to plant a tree in front of the Leonard Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, part of Million Trees NYC – Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative to green the city with one million new trees by 2017.

The event recognized the contributions of Betty Smith, who is among the borough’s most renowned writers as a result of her seminal work, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Smith grew up in the tenements of Williamsburg and patronized the Leonard Library, which figures prominently in her novel. Smith’s daughter shared her remembrances of her mother’s life and work. The children from P.S. 132, ranging from second to fifth graders, presented Nancy Smith Pfeiffer with artwork that they made of trees.

A serviceberry (Amelanchier) tree was then dedicated in Betty Smith’s memory on the library’s lawn. Serviceberries are small, flowering trees. It is one of the million trees that will be planted in New York City over the next decade.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a literary masterpiece and there is no better way to honor the author, Betty Smith, then by planting a tree right outside of the Leonard Library Branch that appears in the book,” said Commissioner Benepe. “It is appropriate that her beloved library be part of Mayor Bloomberg's Million Trees Initiative, as streets, parks, backyards and campuses of New York City are populated with one million new trees over the next decade. We commend the Brooklyn Public Library for coordinating today's important event.”

Million Trees NYC is a citywide, public-private initiative with an ambitious goal: to plant and care for one million new trees across the city’s five boroughs over the next decade. As a result of a new comprehensive tree planting and greening approach, entire neighborhoods throughout New York City will be transformed into beautiful greenscapes.


“I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.”

George Burns
(1896 – 1996)

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