Central Park’s Harlem Meer Has a Floating Christmas Tree!

Feeling like NYC has gotten a bit boring and the City government abhors anything too out of the ordinary? Well, check out the Central Park Harlem Meer Floating Christmas Tree via New York Lives:

Great history of that area of the park. When I read the description of the clip sent by New York Lives, I thought a random person must have placed the floating tree there in the water – for fun. However, this was indeed implemented by the management. Whether you celebrate the holidays in any way – or not, there’s something heartening about this.

New York Lives (“a web video site featuring portraits of New Yorkers from different walks of life”) web site.

** Don’t forget caroling at the Arch today at 5 p.m.! **

The History of the Washington Square Christmas Tree — Tree from First Tree Lighting Ceremony in 1924 Was Planted in the Park In Spirit of “Wise Use”

“Researching Greenwich Village History”, an NYU site, recently uncovered the history of the first Washington Square Christmas tree. It turns out that the tree propped up in the front of the Arch at the first tree lighting ceremony in 1924 was later planted in the park. Words to the carols – to prompt the sing along – were projected onto the Arch!

The writer was not able to confirm that that tree is still at WSP or where it was planted which would be quite interesting to know. Apparently, “conservation” was a big consideration at that time, more so than 87 years later it appears. An article in the New York Times in 1925 expressed that, “Each year…a cry is raised that to have Christmas trees is to endanger our waning forest resources.” Perhaps they might consider planting the trees in the park now vs. the trees ending up in the chipper. The original tree, if it still existed in recent years, may have been chopped down in the Parks Department’s axing of so many trees via its redesign of Washington Square.

Here’s the info:

The original tree was officially presented on December 24, 1924, by Parks Commissioner Gallatin. The “appropriate ceremonies” included the lighting of the tree, which was to be equipped with “1,500 amber, green and red incandescent lights.” (New York Times, “City’s Celebration of Yuletide Begins” December 24, 1924) as well as caroling, and as the article went to press, the plan was to project the words of Christmas carols directly onto the Washington Square Arch, “…so that all present may read and sing.” The living tree, temporarily set up by the arch, was then to be planted permanently elsewhere in the park the following Monday.

It seems that today’s Washington Square Christmas Tree is a cut one, but in the spirit of “wise use,” we can still hope that the original living tree was able to be planted and enjoyed for many years after its journey to New York City! And of course, every time we walk through Washington Square Park and see an evergreen, we can imagine that it’s an 87 year veteran of park life.

Don’t forget caroling by the tree continues in front of the Arch Saturday, December 24th 5 p.m.!

The projection of the words to the carols on the Arch seems to have been abandoned but perhaps that could be brought back too. It would be another way to save trees as songbooks are now provided and handed out by the Washington Square Association instead.

The Rockefeller Center tree lighting is in its 79th year — a not well known fact is that the Washington Square tradition, at year 87, surpasses it in age.

Photo of this year’s tree(2011): Fernandohn via Instagram.

The Washington Square Christmas Tree 2011 Lit!


The Washington Square tree lighting ceremony took place last Wednesday amidst the rainstorm. The lights now come on daily from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. You can take part in caroling by the Arch Christmas Eve December 24th at 5 p.m.

p.s. A neighbor noted the “crime scene” tape alongside the tree.

At times it seems like things are a bit off, doesn’t it?

Maybe that’s a good thing tho’ — particularly if otherwise you end up with Credit Suisse coordinating tree lighting volunteers a la Madison Square Park or a huge holiday market taking up a vast section of the park as is the case at Union Square. Maybe we should be thankful for small flaws.

Photos: Cathryn

Holiday Events — Tree Arrives by the Washington Square Arch Monday, November 28th!

Last year's tree

More info on the holiday events at the Park to come but here are the basics:

Monday, November 28th Christmas tree arrives from Vermont by the Arch (at 4 a.m.!) (It’s unclear if it gets decorated that day but swing on by!)

Friday, December 2nd 8 p.m. Washington Square Music Festival Holiday Concert FREE in St. Joseph’s Church, 371 Sixth Avenue

Wednesday, December 7th 6 p.m. Tree-lighting ceremony & caroling

Saturday, Dec. 24th, 5 p.m. Christmas Eve Caroling

Tree at Washington Square Arch Up & Lit for a Little While Longer

Until one day it just disappears…

Photo: Cat

Happy New Year 2010!

2009 Tree Lighting Side View Arch

This photo is a bit belated from the Annual Tree lighting* at the Park December 10th. I’ve run a few photos of the lit Christmas Tree at the Washington Square Arch of late but it’s so pretty and historic all at once.

*Not to be a downer but having attended the Tree Lighting ceremony for the first time this year, recognizing it is one of the oldest traditions (older than the Rockefeller Center tree lighting), I think that the ceremony could be improved a bit. I gather the Washington Square Association is in charge. I’m sure it’s a lot of work but it really needs some fine tuning. Just my cursory thoughts on the subject.

More to come on the New Year 2010Wishing you a great year to come!

Photo: Cat

Washington Square Park Tree Lighting 2009 Thursday, December 10th; Caroling Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24th — at The Arch

CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS IN WASHINGTON SQUARE WITH THE ANNUAL TREE LIGHTING AND CAROLING

Two Events: Thursday, December 10th and Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Washington Square Park will hold its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony under the Arch on Thursday, December 10th at 6 p.m.  This will be the 83rd year the tree has been lit.  The Washington Square ceremony is older than the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting!  That tree lighting tradition began in 1931 making it now 78 years old.

On Thursday, December 10th, after the tree is lit at 6 p.m., song leader Mary Hurlbut, accompanied by the Rob Susman Brass Quartet, will sing holiday songs.  There will be a Santa Claus present. 

On Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24th at 5 p.m. — celebrate the holiday with carols led by the Rob Susman Brass Quartet at the Washington Square Arch.

The Washington Square Park Christmas tree will be lit in front of the Arch at Fifth Avenue between the hours of 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. throughout the holiday season.

At both events, songbooks will be provided by the Washington Square Association which also donates the tree.  The Washington Square Association was founded in 1906 and is one of the city’s oldest community organizations.  For 83 years, it has sponsored carol singing under the arch.

* Note: 2010 Tree lighting info here.

Photo: Ken Howard

Wednesday December 24th, Christmas Eve Festivities/Caroling, at the Arch 5 p.m.

Washington Sq Park Arch Tree

Washington Sq Park Arch Tree

So if you, like me, missed the tree being lit and the caroling earlier this month, you can come by the Washington Square Park Arch on Christmas Eve, December 24th, at 5 p.m. and join in on some holiday festivities (including caroling).

New York Daily Photo has a doctored photo of the tree and Arch bathed in white in a post from earlier this month. Brian Dubé who runs the site stopped by the tree lighting and here is an excerpt of some of his thoughts:

Historically I have been rather scroogish in my attitude towards Christmas, bristling at its overly commercial nature. But over time, I have softened, and realize that nothing is gained in being a curmudgeon. Why stand alone on principle and isolate yourself, while the rest of the world is busy singing around you? I am not saying that one should throw principle into the wind, but certainly looking for the good is not the worst life approach. So I see holidays as opportunities to celebrate – and there are so many ways and places to celebrate everything imaginable here, both religious and secular.

He writes that the Washington Square Park tree lighting is in its 82nd year and that “the ritual actually dates back earlier than the tree lighting in Rockefeller Center.”

The photo above was taken by J. Bary.

Washington Square Park Christmas Tree Lighting and Caroling Wednesday, December 10th, 6 p.m.

The holiday tree at Washington Square Park is up under the Arch. The Arch has been freed of its fencing. You can actually walk under it (although not very far … before you hit the fenced-off Fountain area).

And the tree will be lit… Plus caroling on:

Wednesday, December 10th at 6 p.m.

Under Arch @ Fifth Avenue

Washington Square Park

(Rain or ‘shine.’)

Also, there will be Christmas caroling by the tree on

Christmas Eve, Wednesday, December 24th, 5 p.m.

Photo: Tony Hoffman (Arch, 2005)