West Village isn’t pining for trees, unlike Little Italy: Report

A tree-lined section of W. 10th St in the West Village. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

BY GABE HERMAN | Downtown Manhattan has some of the most and least tree-dense areas of the city, according to a recent study.

The report was done by real estate Web site localize.city, which ranked neighborhoods in every borough except Staten Island based on the number of trees per square mile. The trees considered for the study were those on sidewalks and maintained by the city.

The West Village has the fourth-most trees over all, with 5,102 trees per square mile. Park Slope came in third, Floral Park was second, and Cobble Hill was first, with 5,783 trees per square mile.

Gramercy was eighth on the list, with 4,687 trees per square mile. Other Manhattan neighborhoods in the top 1o included the Upper East Side at number five and the Upper West Side in 1oth place.

The city has made a push in recent years to add more trees, including the 2007 launch of the MillionTreesNYC initiative by the Parks Department under former Mayor Bloomberg. The one millionth tree in that program was planted in 2015.

There’s lots of greenery in the Village at Minetta Lane and Bleecker St. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

Parks also has a street tree map for the entire city, which includes statistics about the environmental benefits trees provide to New York. Each year, trees reduce carbon dioxide in the city by more than 612,000 tons and remove 635 tons of air pollutants. Trees’ other benefits include energy conservation, intercepting storm water, and of course shady relief on sweltering summer days.

In City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s recent progress report in this paper, he touted the importance of adding trees to the local landscape. He said he has allocated more than $800,000 for new street trees and tree guards in his Council District 3 (Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen), with several hundred new trees scheduled to arrive this winter.

Subsequently, in response to the localize.city report that shows the West Village is among the leaders in tree density, Johnson on Aug. 20 tweeted that every neighborhood should follow suit.

“As the councilmember for District 3, my goal is to fill every empty tree pit in our district with a new tree by the time I leave office,” he tweeted. “Street trees have many benefits and every neighborhood across NYC should be lined with them!”

The tree study included some sobering news for Manhattan, however, as two neighborhoods were among the worst in tree-density. The Garment District had the third-fewest number of trees per square mile at 327. And Little Italy had the fourth-fewest at 875 trees per square mile.

7 Responses to West Village isn’t pining for trees, unlike Little Italy: Report

  1. Georgette Fleischer

    A dearth of trees in Little Italy is sad and too true.

    As the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation increasingly subcontracts out its work, including the planting and maintenance of trees, standards plummet. In Petrosino Square, the only park in Little Italy, we discovered that one peripheral gingko died because the contractor failed to remove the thick metal wire from around the tree ball, so as the tree grew, it strangled itself. Another tree was sheared to a stump by one of the ubiquitous film trucks. Other trees were planted in improperly prepared tree pits, which caused water to run off into the street instead of to the roots of the trees. A fix, an agreement by DPR to expand the tree pits, was abandoned halfway unfinished, years ago now, and the upshot is that despite many appeals to 311 and DPR all the way up to Borough Commissioner Bill Castro and Commissioner Mitchell Silver, of the dozen peripheral trees in Petrosino, one tree has been missing for close to a decade, and two standing gingkos have been dead for two years, i.e., 1/4 of the peripheral trees in Petrosino are missing or dead.

    Through gross mismanagement the City of New York is failing to husband our precious public resources, and Little Italy suffers especially.

    Georgette Fleischer
    President, Friends of Petrosino Square

  2. Looking at you, District 1 Council member Margaret Chin !

  3. We’ve been struggling with the City to re-plant fallen trees in Greenwich Village for decades. If you inspect the Minetta Street photograph carefully, only the southerly extreme of Minetta Street has some of its trees still standing. You can see the newly replanted sapling on the westerly foot of the photo and the ghost of another lost tree is marked by a baby-buggy seen chained to the surviving tree-guard at the easterly foot of the photo. Most of the old growth trees on the northerly 2/3rds of Minetta Street and on the entirety of Minetta Lane have been knocked down by delivery trucks, and especially by private garbage cartering services for MacDougal Street clubs and restaurants. Gorgeous canopy old-growth maples, 35 year-old Gingkoes – all gone.
    The latest tragedy was when NYC X-marked a mature WRONG tree for removal. The NYC Parks Department heavy vehicles swooped in one morning and sliced it from the middle of one of the our flower garden-festooned tree guards on our block. NYC mulched the tree right there in front of all of the neighbors who stood protesting. That tree was planted by us decades ago and the tree guards were paid for, installed and maintained by our own block association with precious little help from the city. The city has made further planting on the block almost impossible.
    So where’s the initiative and where’s the $800,000? And how is it that Greenwich Village has so many more trees when most of them get sliced out from under us?
    None of Crosby Street between Bleecker and Howard has had a tree since 1969. Little Italy needs a hand, but the trucking down there won’t let the trees stand.
    As long as these 19th century Landmark blocks are treated like back-alley delivery depots for beer trucks and provisions for GV bars or SOHO business, trees will continue to fight to survive and the antique Landmark blocks of Minetta Street and Minetta Lane will have to continue fighting for their green lives — on their own.

  4. As a Resident of Minetta Lane I can not agree more with my neighbor ‘Jake’ above. In fact, our home was designed around the very concept of the relatively unique way the trees formed an almost gothic arch crossing Minetta Street and was represented in the facade of our building. Well, after that incredible debacle of cutting down the wrong tree its no longer a supportive concept. But more than that, it was one of the very things that made our neighborhood unique, interesting and a lush respite from the honky tonk of McDougal Street and Sixth Avenue. The trees getting hit and subsequently destroyed by wayward construction trucks [or theater set trucks moving in equipment and scenery by the Minetta Lane Theater] has become unfortunately commonplace and despite the [community paid] installation of tree guards they still can not sustain keeping these trees alive.

    Its a very unfortunate situation that really does demand a more substantive response than to continue to plant new trees without accounting for protecting them for future enjoyment.

  5. What do you expect when you try to plant trees on a cantilevered platform built on top of a subway tunnel?

    The Petrosino “renovation” was a waste of a million dollars plus that you pressured former councilmember Alan Gerson into providing for your mad scheme.

  6. As one of the members of Friends of Fort Greene Park & a former resident of Minetta St (not Lane)I have to weigh in on what the reprehensible Dept of Parks -Commissioner Silver and the Mayor who pontificates about a resilient city are actually doing in contravention of everything we know about climate change urgency.

    In Brooklyn, the Parks Without Borders scheme spending of $10.500,000 which has been urgently needed after decades of negligence by NYC Administrations -is not merely being spent on capital infrastructure repairs. It embodies a ‘redesign’ which will kill over 58 mature healthy tall trees to be replaced by a sterile 43′ wide cement Plaza. I invite anyone interested in knowing the details to go to our website:
    https://sites.google.com/view/fortgreeneparkrenov
    Indeed, we’ve sued the Parks Dept & the City to stop it -join us in Court this coming Tues 9/10 9:30 80 Centre St Rm 122

    The scheme is just one of several others…to note:

    57 Trees ‘offed’ for bike lane: https://brooklyneagle.com/articles/2019/05/07/bik

    200 Trees chopped at Baruch NYCHA : https://nypost.com/2019/04/27/uproar-after-city-s

    The impending & very outrageous East River Park scheme shoved down that community’s throat w/it’s evisceration & planned arborcide as been reported here:
    https://www.thevillager.com/2019/06/public-hearin

    There’s plenty more-but I’m compelled to finally note the amount of street trees being manhandled by developer contractors who treat them like so much garbage…citywide & coming to a block near you.They’re being destroyed en masse.

    3″ Caliper replacements (2 out of three never survive) that take decades to grow & provide the oxygen and pollution mitigation we need-stormwater runoff capture-canopy shade…this and more are being ignored by of all people-the so-called stewards of our trees.

    The oblivious Council that continues to fund projects at the expense of NYC resilience are complicit with a mindless Mayor -who talks the talk-and is AWOL about quality of life & sustainability.

  7. I wonder what Corey Johnson thinks of all the trees being destroyed at East River Park beginning in March… If he really cares about trees he will vote no on the ESCR project. Otherwise, he’s just another candidate jumping on the environmental bandwagon.

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