The shady trees of West 13th Street

This 1940 photo shows 13th Street looking toward Eighth Avenue. It’s a lovely yet unremarkable Village block, dominated by a tenement building surrounded by townhouses. The structure that sits second from left with the stepped gables was the Jackson Square Public Library, designed in 1887.

Now look at this 2008 photo. The buildings have not changed one bit, except that there are trees—lots of shady, pretty trees—obscuring them. In the 1940 photo, even Jackson Square Park is bereft of trees! The street looks naked without them. I think we have the beautify-your-block movement, plus the city’s commitment to greenery back in the 1960s and 1970s, to thank.

The park has trees now, and this morning, a couple of trucks came by to unload more for planting today.

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3 Responses to “The shady trees of West 13th Street”

  1. Dan Says:

    Similarly, the lovely verdant block of E. 10th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues was also treeless until the early sixties. Longtime block residents credit Lady Bird Johnson’s campaign to beautify America.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Every time I look at old photos of city streets, I’m amazed at how many are totally treeless. Luckily it’s not that way now. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Once an 1880s public library, now a private home in the West Village | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] story of what became known as the Jackson Square Library began in 1879, when a teacher and other women affiliated with Grace Church formed the New […]

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