Memorial Day Weekend 2012, Washington Square (Hangmen’s Elm Area, Vast Swaths of Lawn Cordoned Off …)

A bit delayed …

NW Entrance closed (due to Hangmen’s Elm – at right – concern)

Area around tree cordoned off

Regulars Tic and Tac perform (with live drums!)

Open lawn, southern end

Fenced off lawn remains throughout eastern end

I noticed the park’s NorthWest entrance cordoned off over the weekend for “inspection and maintenance.” But it wasn’t until commenter Seth noted it in relation to yesterday’s post about concerns over the condition of the famous 330 year old Hangmen’s Elm which resides right there that I realized the two were related. There must really be serious concern. Community Board 2 met last night to discuss (more on that to come). As for the large swaths of park lawn which have been fenced off for close to two months, a small portion was opened up for use south of the main plaza. It’s close to a month overdue for the fences coming down on the NorthWest and Eastern sides. One regular mentioned that people are either avoiding the park entirely or bringing their own lawn chairs to sit. As for good news, (tho’ still not fully operational), the fountain is on!

Is Washington Square’s 330 Year old Hangmen’s Elm in Trouble? Community Board 2 Meeting to Address Tonight

Has the construction at Washington Square taken a damaging toll on the park’s famous Hangmen’s Elm reported to be 330 years old?

From Community Board 2 announcement:

Wednesday, May 30th, CB2’s Parks Committee will be meeting at the LGBT Center, located at 208 West 13th Street, in room 410.  The meeting will begin at 6:30pm.  The agenda items will include:

1.     Public discussion of the recent Parks Department decision, following an inspection, to remove one or more major limbs from the Hangman’s Elm (aka Hangman’s Tree) in Washington Square Park.  The Parks Department has been invited to attend the meeting.  [This item was added to the agenda last week after we were informed of this decision.]

The Hangmen’s Elm is located in the NorthWest corner of the park. There were concerns before the park redesign construction began that the trees would not (and were not) adequately protected. And we know the young trees lining the fountain have not fared very well

Kristin Jones’ “Behold,” Slated for Arbor Day 2013, Has Eye on “Hangmen’s Elm” at Washington Square

Kristin Jones beside the "Hangmen's Elm"

Updated – This past Friday’s New York Times featured Kristin Jones’ “Behold,” “a 24 hour multimedia extravaganza” in appreciation of the city’s trees, slated for Arbor Day 2013. One tree in each borough will be designated as a point of focus.

The tree she has her eye on for Manhattan is at Washington Square – the famous “Hangman’s Elm” (there seems to be dispute over whether it was actually used for hangings) in the NorthWest corner of the park. I did not realize that tree is 330 years old! Incredible.

Jones and her partner were responsible for “Metronome” – the unique clock (or “artwork/digital timepiece, intended as a modernist meditation on the dissolution of time”) that looms above Union Square on 14th Street.

Of the “Hangmen’s Elm,” she says: “All these years this beautiful tree was right under my nose. It makes me angry that I never appreciated it until now.”

From the Times’ article:

… she whipped off her blue-rimmed glasses and, conducting the conversation with her ungloved hands, described her plans for that tree and four others in New York City: a 24-hour multimedia extravaganza of lighting, time-lapse filming, poetry and music, to be called “Behold.”

Ms. Jones wants New Yorkers not only to appreciate the ancient giants in their midst but also to pitch in and help conserve them. In that respect, “Behold” is an artistic intervention.

“Imagine how beautiful she would be all lit up,” she mused, stepping back from the English elm, one of just a few of its vintage left in the city. Ms. Jones assigned it a gender based on, well, women’s intuition. Her intended subject dwarfs her, but then, all of her artistic ambitions are supersize.

The artist suggests that the Parks Commissioner is not a fan of the idea. There’s time to change that by the “target date” of Arbor Day – April 26 – 2013. (Possibly, a New York Times article may help win his favor?)

Of the “Hangmen’s Elm,” Jones said: “This tree kind of chose me.” In addition, “she considers the trees natural wonders given short shrift by the city they nurture.”

On that, she will find many agree.

*************************************************************************
Accompanying Photo essay.
Photo: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
_________________________________________________________________________

— If you enjoy what you read here and can chip in towards maintaining coverage here at WSP Blog, it’s appreciated! Visit here to donate and support this blog. Thank you.