NYC Resources311Office of the Mayor

Official Website of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

Van Cortlandt Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg Plants "Survivor Tree" At 9/11 Memorial

Mayor Bloomberg spoke at the planting of the
Malcolm Pinckney

On Wednesday, December 22, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Chris Ward, Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, and 9/11 survivors Keating Crown, Tom Canavan and Ret. FDNY Lt. Mickey Kross planted the “Survivor Tree” at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza, marking its homecoming to the World Trade Center site.

The Callery Pear tree became known as the “Survivor Tree” after sustaining extensive damage, but living through the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In October 2001, the tree with lifeless limbs, snapped roots and blackened trunk was discovered and freed from the piles of smoldering rubble in the plaza of the World Trade Center. Mayor Bloomberg, who is Chairman of the 9/11 Memorial, also announced the completion of the structural steel for the Museum Pavilion at the event.

“The presence of the Survivor Tree on the Memorial Plaza will symbolize New York City’s and this nation’s resilience after the attacks,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Like the thousands of courageous stories of survival that arose from the ashes of the World Trade Center, the story of this tree also will live on and inspire many.”

“This stalwart pear tree is a living symbol for everyone who survived the terrorist attacks and everyone around the world who has shown strength and resilience in the face of devastation,” 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels said. “I’m grateful to all of the dedicated people who worked to nurse this tree back to health, allowing millions of future 9/11 Memorial visitors to experience its beauty and power.”

“The Port Authority’s highest priority is delivering on our commitment to open the 9/11 Memorial by the tenth anniversary of the attacks,” Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said. “The completion of the Memorial Pavilion steel is one more tangible sign that we are making progress toward that commitment.”

“The return of the survivor tree to the World Trade Center is a symbol of our collective resilience in the face of adversity and the healing powers of nature,” said Commissioner Benepe. “Once twisted, blackened and near death from the inferno of the 9/11 attacks, the tree now stands beautiful and thriving. I am grateful to all of the Parks Department employees who carefully nursed the tree back to health at the Arthur Ross Nursery in Van Cortlandt Park.”

The Survivor Tree was originally planted in the 1970s in the vicinity of buildings four and five in the World Trade Center complex near Church Street. The damaged tree measured eight feet when it arrived in November 2001 at the Parks Department’s Arthur Ross Nursery in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It was nursed back to health and has grown to a height of about 30 feet. On Wednesday, the tree returned to the site from Van Cortlandt Park by a flatbed truck.

Upon the tree’s arrival at the Arthur Ross Nursery, its damaged limbs were pruned, leaving a blackened truck with a tiny root system to be planted. In March 2010, the tree was uprooted in powerful storms that swept through New York. Again, the tree survived, and caretakers righted the tree, examined roots, pruned branches and secured it with cables.

The Survivor Tree will continue to grow among dozens of Swamp White Oak trees that have been planted on the Memorial Plaza starting in August 2010. When the Memorial is fully complete, about 400 trees will line its Plaza, which features a complex soil supported paving surface and unique cistern system designed to sustain the urban forest. Currently, 124 trees, including the Survivor Tree, are planted on the Plaza.


“Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear
but forgetting where you heard it.”

Laurence J. Peter

(1919 - 1990)

Directions to Van Cortlandt Park

Was this information helpful?