Say Hello To LiNeck's Not So Little Friend

A look at what may be New York City's oldest living tree.

The world will probably never see Willard Scott wishing this long time Queens resident a Happy Birthday.

Still, a towering tulip tree stands in relative obscurity along a nature trail in Alley Pond Park that may in fact be New York City's oldest living resident.

Nicknamed the Queens Giant, this poplar tree measures 133.8 feet tall, 18.6 feet in circumference and back in 2000 was estimated to be anywhere from 350-450 years old. 

"I'm not exactly sure how they decided the Giant's age, but it's still pretty incredible knowing that it's right in Queens," said Sgt. Marc Sanchez of the Urban Park Rangers.

Impressive indeed, agreed another long time Little Neck resident.

"We lose more of those trees now everyday, which is terrible, so it's great we still have a few of them left," said Judy Cohen, president of the North Hills Estates Civic Association.

But the Queens Giant is easy to miss when a person doesn't know where look—just ask Cohen.

"I've heard about it, but never actually seen the Queens Giant myself," Cohen said.

Described as the 'Big Foot of Trees' this lofty poplar is allusively stationary, nestled in a modestly dense patch of forest just north of the Long Island Expressway.

"It's surrounded by other trees so in the summer it's hard to know it's there," Sanchez said.

And a quick, albeit unscientific poll of park goers in Alley Pond Monday afternoon helped prove the sergeant's point as a sum total of zero people in the park knew anything about this historic tree.

"You'd think I'd have at least heard about it [the Queens Giant], having lived in Bayside my whole life," said a very surprised Amanda Weis, on Monday when she first learned about the city's largest and oldest Tulip tree.

Weis wasn't the only one either to overlook the quiescent giant humbly hiding inside the nature walk at the intersection of East Hampton Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway.

"I come here [Alley Pond Park] a few times a week, and would never think to go over there looking for a trail," said Russell Evans of Springfield.

A misconception that Sanchez said was probably not all that uncommon.

"That's one of the best parts about my job—getting to show people all of these great hidden secrets about the parks here in Queens," Sanchez said.

To find out more about the Urban Park Rangers you can visit them online here.


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