The honor goes to Madison Square Park, where on December 21, 1912 a 60-foot tree arrived on a truck from the Adironacks.
The enormous tree, raised and supported by a block of cement, was decorated with 1,200 colored lights (donated by the Edison Company).
“All around the park on every path, apparently unmindful of the cold, stood a reverential audience, cheering the music and praising the idea of a public Christmas tree, but not once growing boisturous in the smallest degree,” wrote The New York Times on Christmas Day.
Having a living room or parlor Christmas tree was an established custom in the city. But a community tree outside in a park? That was a new idea.
“It is hoped by those who have worked for it and hope to personify in it the great Christmas spirit that the placing of a great outdoor Christmas tree may become a national custom, taking the place in America of the older customs of older lands,” stated The New York Times on December 21.
New Yorkers loved it. Pretty soon, Christmas trees became the norm in parks and squares.
[Photos: Bain News Service. They are not dated, but they seem to all show the same tree in Madison Square Park]
Tags: Christmas tree lighting ceremony, First Christmas tree, First outside Christmas tree, Madison Square Park Christmas tree, Madison Square Park history, New York City outdoor Christmas Trees, New York invented Christmas