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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 circumference 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 between 350 and 450 years of age. It was a sapling in the 17th century, when the Dutch West India Company sent a group of Walloon families to Manhattan. It was a well-established young tree when General George Washington passed close by in 1790 on a tour of Long Island.

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.) This tree has survived miraculously from a time when native Matinecock people trod softly beneath it to an age when automobiles roar by oblivious to its presence. It is perhaps one of the last witnesses to the entire span of the city’s history, from a tiny Dutch settlement to one of the great metropolises of the world. It grows on fertile, well-watered land that is part of the glacial moraine created by the Minnesota Ice Sheet when it reached its southern terminus some 15,000 years ago. Treated with respect, this aged sylvan citizen of our city could live another hundred years or so.

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