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An Arboreal Census of Central Park

A year after the devastating storm.


Photographs by Nathan Harger

It’s been a tough twelve months for the trees of Central Park. Last August 18, a severe storm came sweeping off the Hudson and slammed into the north end of the park. In 30 minutes, more than 500 trees, roughly 2 percent of the park’s total, came down. Another thousand were damaged enough to need immediate attention. It was the most destruction Central Park had ever sustained, and the recovery will take many years.

Nor was that the only bad day of the year. Just a few weeks ago, a limb snapped off a tree next to the entrance to the Central Park Zoo, killing a 6-month-old child and severely injuring her mother. It was the third serious accident in eleven months.

Yet the trees of Central Park remain one of the city’s most alluring natural attractions, with a rich and compelling history. Implausibly enough, the Central Park Conservancy has counted every single tree over six inches in diameter, and horticulturists can download each one’s vital statistics by simply walking up to it with a GPS gadget. Every one of those 23,551 trees is, of course, worth a look. The 23 here are only the most notable.


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