Alley Pond Park

The Alley Pond Giant

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

Measured in the year 2000 at a height of 133.8 feet with a girth of 18.6 feet, this tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) may be the tallest and the oldest living organism in the city. It is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 350 years old. It was a sapling in the 17th century, when the Dutch West India Company sent a group of Walloon families to Manhattan. In 1790, when General George Washington passed close by on a tour of Long Island, it would have been a well-established young tree.

Tulip trees are capable of living 600 years, and can reach a height of over 150 feet. (One rival of the same species, found in Clove Lakes, Staten Island, measures 119 feet in height, or 14.8 feet shorter than this Alley Pond Giant.)

From the time when native Matinecock people trod softly beneath its limbs, to an age when automobiles roar by oblivious to its presence, this tree has miraculously survived the upheavals of the modern age. It is perhaps one of the last witnesses to the entire span of the city’s history, from the time of tiny Dutch settlements to that of a modern metropolis.

This tree grows on fertile, well-drained soil that is part of the glacial moraine that was pushed by the Minnesota Ice Sheet and then deposited here as the ice receded, some 15,000 years ago. Treated with respect, this aged sylvan citizen of our city could live another hundred years or so. 

Directions to Alley Pond Park

Was this information helpful?