Magazine article The New Yorker

Treepocalypse

Magazine article The New Yorker

Treepocalypse

Article excerpt

Last Tuesday evening at about nine fifty-five, a thunderstorm with winds of up to seventy miles an hour--meteorologically, a "microburst," or a "downburst"--arrived from New Jersey, hit the Upper West Side, blasted across Central Park in a corridor extending from about Ninety-seventh Street to about 107th, and continued on into East Harlem, Randalls Island, and Co-op City. By about ten-thirty, it had raged itself out: some property damage, nobody hurt. Hundreds of trees, however, went down. Hundreds more were broken so badly that they will have to be removed. Two days after the storm, there were still leaves and twigs that had blown into the Ninety-sixth Street subway station, where their out-of-placeness underground gave an uneasy sense of something having gone wrong above.

Just inside the Park's West Ninety-seventh Street entrance, whole or shattered trees lay sprawled across the paths and lawns. Yellow plastic "Caution" tape marked their perimeters like forensic chalk lines. Locals were wandering among the wreckage in attitudes of mourning. A retired schoolteacher walking a Lhasa Apso with the fur on its head in a topknot said there should be a public funeral for the trees, and an accompanying fund-raiser. A bird-watcher reported that she had seen a female house finch with a broken leg. People were shaking their heads slowly, and taking photographs. A long-haired young man who said he had come in from Queens waited for some people talking in hushed tones beside a huge uprooted oak to move on. He explained that he just wanted to be next to the tree and commune with it.

Near and far, chainsaws were buzzing. Wood chippers were making an almost choked sound as large tree parts went into their maws and emerged as blizzards of flakes. Entire English armadas' worth of oaks were being reduced to confetti, plus whole, fragrant furniture stores of horse chestnut, tulip, beech, and black cherry. Every fallen tree and branch in the Park must be chipped. Two years ago, a few trees were found to be infested with the larvae of the deadly (to trees) Asian long-horned beetle, so no unchipped wood can be removed. Some of the chips will remain in the Park as mulch.

Neil Calvanese, the vice-president of operations for the Central Park Conservancy, was going through the storm-blasted area in an official vehicle. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.