Saturday, April 27, 2013

New Haven Celebrates 375 Years…

And plants a tree.

The historic New Haven Green was abuzz with activity on this impossibly gorgeous spring afternoon, all to commemorate the City’s 375th birthday.

What brought us out was the opportunity to participate in a bit of history — the planting of a Pin Oak tree in the exact spot on the Upper Green where the Lincoln Oak had stood. 

The Lincoln Oak was planted by the City of New Haven in 1909 to commemorate the birth of Abraham Lincoln 100 years before. It was uprooted last October during Hurricane Sandy.

Many people helped to plant the new Pin Oak Quercus palustris 

The tree was standing upright in the ground, well in advance of the 1:30 ceremony. URI and its newest GreenSkills workers did much of the heavy work.

Note the donut hole, required for proper planting.

Associate Director Chris Ozyck shared his wisdom 
with the workers and curious bystanders.

After the lesson, everyone jumped into action.

The public was invited to take part in this historic event.

The dignitaries arrived.
They threw their dirt into the donut hole, having missed the lesson.

All’s well that ends well.

Planted to just the right depth, and properly mulched and watered, the 
New Haven Green’s newest resident looks stately in its new home.

For those of you interested in history, here is some more about the 1909 Lincoln Oak.

This tree and the City made the news when human skeletal remains were discovered entangled in the trees upended roots. 

Those who know the Green and its history were only mildly surprised by the discovery. The New Haven Green was once the City’s burying ground. Historian and artist Rob Greenberg reminded us of that fact today with his display of rubbings from gravestones that stood on the Upper Green until they were moved to the Grove Street Cemetery, established in 1797, after the burial ground on the Green became too crowded. 

The skeletons are still being studied. Drew Days, one of the Proprietors of the New Haven Green, announced today that there will be a re-internment of the remains on the Green once the investigation is over. He speculates that there is still much to be learned from the bones.

Rob Greenberg has been doing research on the tree every since last October. He recently discovered a newspaper article indicating that this same tree had suffered a close call in 1961 during Hurricane Esther. The newspaper headline read: “Bones of Man, Child Unicoverd On Green By Surprised Workers.” On that occasion, the tree was only partially uprooted, and workers were able to get it back into the ground where it survived for 5 more decades.

The Lincoln Oak was marked with a plaque, anchored into the ground by a cement footing.

Partly due to Greenberg’s persistence, the footing was examined and x-rayed by the New Haven bomb squad, studied by the State Archaeologist and several Quinnipiac University  (QU) professors, and then taken to the digital imaging lab at QU. The scans revealed two time capsules. On the Green today the Parks Department was soliciting guesses about what mystery items they contain.

No time capsule was buried during the tree planting ceremony today. That, too, may come later. 

For now, that’s all I’ve got.

Happy Birthday, New Haven!

1 comment:

  1. Yea for Rob Greenberg and his persistence! Great that he stood up for what he knew. Without him we wouldn't know about these time capsules. I hope there are new time capsules buried in the near future.