Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cherry Blossom Tree Massacre In Queens Borough Hall

A grove of Cherry Blossom trees were destroyed behind Queens Borough Hall to make way for construction equipment. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

Residents of Kew Gardens are fuming after the city destroyed nearly a dozen beloved Cherry Blossom Trees.

The arborcide is part of Borough President Helen Marshall's $ 21 million dollar glass atrium project she is having built in the rear courtyard of Queens Borough Hall. The beautiful trees, some believed to be forty-years-old, were taken down in order to made way for construction equipment. The structure is reportedly being built for cultural events, public meetings, and performances. The issue was first reported by NY1.

The property is owned by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

For decades the Cherry Blossom trees have been a popular back-drop for newly-wed photos. Thousands of people get married in Queens Borough Hall each year.

A tree removal permit was not posted at the construction site on Sunday.

Officials are now claiming the trees are diseased. With the exception of one all other trees appeared to be healthy.

The controversial project which has been criticized for it expense - is expected to take a year to build.

A Department of Buildings permit. A tree removal permit was not posted at the construction site on Sunday.

Fallen Cherry Blossom Trees behind Queens Borough Hall.

Read/View More:

My Fox - April 2, 2012 - By Linda Schmidt

WPIX - April 2, 2012 - By Narmeen Choudhury

Metro NY - April 2, 2012 - Alison Bowen

New York Post - January 31, 2009 - By Lukas I. Alpert

Times Ledger - February 5, 2009 - By Anna Gustafson

gothamist - By Billy Parker in News on January 31, 2009

New York Daily News - March 15, 2009 - By Benjamin Lesser


  1. Naomi Zurcher, Consulting ArboristApril 6, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Not a first, not an anomaly, but deplorable nonetheless. The sad thing here is that these trees did not have to be mowed down. There are many ways to build without necessitating the clear cutting of such a magnificent grove.

    Decisions such as this should NEVER be left up to the Contractor. It should have been explored in the design phase of this project. If there was a report describing the trees as diseased, shame on the person who generated such a report. Disease, fungal or otherwise, is not the final determinant as to whether a tree(s) needs to be removed. If every London Planetree that has anthracnose had to be removed, there wouldn't be one LP left in the City.

    What was the Landscape Architect who designed the job thinking? Where were the tree-friendly construction strategies that could have saved some of these trees? Why do these scenarios repeat over and over again, resulting in a profound loss of a Publicly owned resource.

    The babble that "they'll be replaced" is not an answer. Trees take a long time to mature and start providing the quality-of-life benefits that they are lauded for, not counting the beauty these trees provided to the community or the fact that they are living things, entitled to more consideration than they were afforded. Given the lack of quality material coming out of nurseries, trees that are planted now rarely reach maturity and, therefore, will not be providing the air pollution reduction, noise mitigation and carbon sequestration these trees were providing and we have come to expect.

    Why couldn't this atrium be a space from which these existing wonderful trees would have been viewed? If the Landscape Architects would have placed more value on the landscape and the trees that populated it rather than on their DESIGN, we wouldn't be having this most unfortunate discussion about the decimation of a valued publicly-owned resource.

  2. Next week marks the 3rd Anniversary of the Queens Boro Hall Cherry Tree Massacre by NYC DCAS and their contractor. As one would expect out of massacre of this nature such as the infamous Mosholu Tree Massacre of the 1980's we then saw significant changes how government managed its infrastructure projects and the public trees within it. As far as I know, nothing within DCAS has changed with regards to their view of large trees within the landscape and the need to protect and preserve them. Shameful.