07 February 2008

Neighborhood Roots

In a City that can't figure out a way to preserve landmark businesses like Katz's or Chumley's, I suppose it's too much to ask for special trees to gain protection.

But if she ever do come up with some sort of landmarking program for trees, I nominate this singular specimen on Kane Street near Court. I'm no good at judging the age of trees, but judging by the thick, gnarled bark, twisted roots and coat of moss and trunk-covering vines, I'd say it dates back to at least Model T times. The plant adds considerable beauty and character to the block. It's spider-web of branches trace infinite designs upon the sky, and the enormously powerful roots take no guff from the neighboring bluestone, pushing it up all around at severe angles. It's a wonder it hasn't been trimmed back; somebody must be looking out for it.


Anonymous said...

Those vines are choking the tree , they should be removed or the tree will die

Anonymous said...

There actually is one landmarked tree in NYC, the Magnolia Grandiflora in Bed-Stuy. There used to be a Weeping Beech in Queens but it died in 1998.

But regarding your claim on dating the tree, it is interesting to note when looking at historic photos of New York, either tax photos (c.1940) or others earlier, there are very very few trees anywhere. They are obviously necessary to a healthy community, but rarely historic-they die. Plus, whenever they used to pave streets or build new lots, nearly all the trees (and the farms, in Brooklyn and Queens) were dug up.

Also, although I agree that places like Chumley's and Katz's should continue in perpetuity, no landmarks law can mandate use. Sure, perhaps Katz's should be landmarked for its cultural significance, but if the business changes in 20 or 30 years, is it still Katz's? Does it still have cultural value? I'd say yes, probably, but it definitely starts to lose its meaning.

Chumley's actually IS a landmarked building and the owner should have maintained it. Sadly, there is only so much the LPC and DOB can do to keep tabs on the structural integrity of the interiors of buildings.

I do hope that Chumley's returns and both it and Katz's, and many, many others, stick around for many more years. But there is only so much the city can do to keep businesses in business.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

I'm aware of the problems surrounding the idea of landmarking businesses. My idea would be to start with giving culturally valuable businesses incentives to stay in business such as tax breaks and rent breaks, for which the landlords would be compensated by the City. There must be some way.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

I also think some legal way to prosecute landlords who do not maintain landmarked buildings should be instituted.