In the Beginning...
This year's Block Association's Spring Planting Day got me thinking (click the link to see the gallery if you missed it). Where and when did this tradition all begin?
I did some digging and found an interesting piece in the NYT that seems to explain pieces of our history I'd never heard. Specifically, that our Block Association began in 1967 on West 103rd Street with a planting and beautification initiative. West 102nd Street was rolled in quickly and about four years later, the Block Association as we know it formally launched, as can be seen in our first newsletter in 1971 here.
Going back all the way to June 25, 1967, 51 years ago, the Times article below recounts how four local mothers had recently come together, mailed out letters to neighbors asking for funds for the improvement of West 103rd Street between Riverside and Broadway, and collected $1201 to buy London plane trees -- the then-favorite trees for our streets because it "grows fast and withstands city pollution."
So there you have it in a nutshell. Our Block Association's raison d'etre: the planting of trees to improve our environment. It's just second nature to the B.A. Hence the twice-yearly tradition of beautifying tree wells, of gently coaxing residents out to assist, of collecting funds to make it possible, and of liaising with the city to keep the greening going when a tree is lost or maimed.
In retrospect, it's pretty great that by the 1971 inaugural issue of the B.A. newsletter, the association already boasted 400 contributing members and had raised enough dough to plant 45 trees! Not too shabby at all.
So when you are walking around enjoying the leafing-out season, consider any tree that looks about 50 years old, and whisper an ode of gratitude to that founding crew -- starting with those four moms -- who planted and planted and planted. They made this such a beautiful neighborhood. And many continue today in their spirit, also thanks to the groundwork they laid in establishing the W. 102-103 Streets Block Association.
If you haven't stepped out or up to help the Block Association this year, it isn't too late. You can join anytime right here.
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