National Arbor Day was observed this past Friday, April 29. For a group of Hoboken residents, it was an opportunity to take a tree tour of this mile-square city led by urban forester and ecologist Mary Charlotte Gitlin, sponsored by the City of Hoboken and the Hoboken Shade Tree Commission.
At the start of the tour, Ms. Gitlin explained that there are no native trees in town since originally, Hoboken was mostly a tidal swamp. And the intense urban and former industrial development of Hoboken left no natural tree habitats.
Yet today, Hoboken has thousands of trees to enjoy. Traveling via the Hop bus to various Hoboken parks and observing street trees along the way, the diversity of tree life was impressive. Although trees were just beginning to leaf out, Ms. Gitlin was quick to identify the various species.
At the first stop, Pier A Park, she pointed out the London plane, lacebark elm and ginkgo trees. The ginkgos on Pier A form a uniform grove, also referred to as a bosque, and are part of the 9-11 memorial dedicated to the 56 Hoboken residents who lost their lives in that tragic event. Beyond the ginkgos on the waterward end of Pier A are a grove of London plane trees planted in the late 1990s. The lacebark elms, also known as Chinese elms, are planted in a 4-block long row to the west of the walkway from Newark Street up to Fourth. Additional rows of London plane trees line the walkway as well as the edge of Sinatra Drive from Newark to Fourth. There are more than 300 shade trees planted at Hoboken’s South Waterfront.
The tour included two of Hoboken’s new resiliency parks, Southwest Park and 7th and Jackson Park. These open space areas have underground stormwater retention systems. During major rainstorm events, they retain millions of gallons of rainwater to alleviate flooding that occurs periodically in the western portion of Hoboken. At the latter park, there was a bald cypress and a swamp white oak, known for their ability to tolerate wet conditions. Also, there was a variety of American elm, selected for its resistance to the Dutch elm disease.
At Elysian Park, established in the early 1900s, there was a remarkable diversity of trees on display. The redbuds and crabapples were in bloom. Ms. Gitlin also pointed out linden and horse chestnut trees. At this point in the tour, everyone was able to identify the London plane trees.
Among the tour goers were Maggie Mallan, an officer of Friends of Elysian Park, and Jim and Rose Perry, members of Friends of Church Square Park. Ms. Mallan said there is an opportunity for people to make donations in order to have a tree planted when a space opens up in one of these parks. At Elysian Park, we saw a young linden dedicated to the memory of William and Mary Perry. This was made possible through a generous donation from their son and daughter-in-law, Jim and Rose Perry.