East 13th Street’s most famous downed tree

Some of the toppled trees caused by so-called Hurricane Irene are impressive. But none will be missed as much as the pear tree that stood on an East Village corner for more than 200 years—before being felled by a winter storm and then an out-of-control wagon.

The story begins in the middle of the 17th century. That’s when New Amsterdam governor Peter Stuyvesant went back to his native Holland, returning to the city with a flowering pear tree.

Stuyvesant planted the tree on his Bouwerie, or farm, “as his memorial, ‘by which,’ said he, ‘my name may be remembered,” a nearby plaque reads.

As the tree grew, so did New York. Third Avenue and Thirteenth Street sprouted around it, and the tree remained on that corner until February 1867 (above photo, from the NYPL).

“After a massive winter storm, which had weakened the tree, two drays (low flat carts without sides or with very low sides, used for heavy loads, especially by brewers) collided, one of which was thrown against the tree with sufficient force to send the 200-year-old veteran to the equivalent of its knees,” reports a Villager article from 2005.

“With its demise went one of old New York’s popular sightseeing attractions and perhaps the last living vestige of the Dutch presence in the city.”

“The tree was taken down, but a Stuyvesant descendant gave a cross-section of its trunk to The New-York Historical Society, where it is enclosed in a glass case on the fourth floor.”

Here’s Third Avenue and 13th Street today.

Tags: , , , , ,

10 Responses to “East 13th Street’s most famous downed tree”

  1. aspicco Says:

    it doesn’t look like the same building to me…?

  2. Parnassus Says:

    It is interesting how at a time when there was no paucity of trees that individual trees, such as Stuyvesant’s pear tree, the Charter Oak, etc., were singled out for importance and commemoration.

  3. Eliza Says:

    I love to hear the story about the house on top of that building on 13th St!

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    I have heard that a famous person owns it…I think it was up for sale recently too.

  5. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Sorry was knocked out for days by Hurricane Irene but am back now. I just want to say that 13th Street and 3rd Avenue plays a very important role in my novel “100 Whores” that’s the site where the hookers do their whoring in the 1960s and 70s


  6. The “hangman’s elm” of Washington Square Park « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] the story of the city’s other most notorious tree . . . until it was knocked […]

  7. A peek into a New York boyhood in the 1850s | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] “Facing this was the ‘Gotham Inn,’ quite a noted sporting tavern. On the corner of 3rd Avenue and 13th Street stood an old pear tree, which was planted on Gov. Stuyvesant’s farm in 1647.” […]

  8. The Brooklyn tree that belongs in a fairy tale | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] elms that form a canopy over the Central Park Mall, Peter Stuyvesant’s 200-year-old flowering pear tree, the infamous “hangman’s elm” of Washington Square […]

  9. This office tower helped guide Battery tugboats | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] reportedly gave to Peter Stuyvesant’s former home (left), which was constructed in 1655 when Stuyvesant was director general of New […]

  10. Lovely houses and lush front yards on 18th Street | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] to part of the city In the 18th and 19th centuries his heirs sold off land that once featured meadows and trees to developers eager to build homes for a growing New […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: