Yes, yes, it's time to talk about trees. There's a New Yorker Talk of the Town piece about Bram Gunther, Deputy Director of Forestry and Horiculture, and the different kinds of sidewalk trees in the city (and why some sidewalks don't have them - “Subway! Grate! Bus stop! Garage! Canopy! Grates! Vaults! Driveway! Awning! Light pole! Again with the canopy!”). And earlier this week, the NY Times answered a question about the sidewalk tree program origins:
A 1902 state law put jurisdiction for street trees in the hands of the Parks Department but supplied no money. Associations like the Tree Planting Association of New York City pushed hard to plant trees during the 1910's. Neighborhood groups also planted street trees; the Brooklyn Heights Association planted 1,081 trees in the Heights in 1940 alone.
Around 1980, aided by federal funds, the city began to pay the full cost of street tree plantings, and now plants nearly 10,000 trees a year. Last year, the Parks Department had $12 million for tree planting. Residents wanting a tree can call 311 and ask for one, or they can get permission to plant a tree themselves.
Ooh...Gothamist totally wants to call 311 about planting trees on treeless sidewalks. We'd be doing it for the dogs!
Now, the Parks Department wants your help in counting how many street trees there are - a 40 hour commitment over 4 months to count trees in a given census area. Find out more here. And there's even a contest you can enter to win a $1,000 CD from Bank of America if you guess how many trees there are - and we're pretty sure they mean street trees, not trees in the parks and private trees. At last count a couple years ago, Gothamist thinks we read there were about 500,000 street trees.