DOWNTOWN — Officials gathered in Battery Park Monday to plant a "Survivor Tree" representing the rebirth of lower Manhattan a decade after the September 11th terrorist attacks.
One day after the country paused to remember those who were lost, members of Community Board 1 watched as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rep. Jerrold Nadler and other local officials raised shovels full of dirt and buried the roots of a 15-foot-tall pin oak tree, nicknamed a 'survivor tree' because of its ability to withstand damage and bad weather.
“Now, the day after the 10-year anniversary is the day that our lower Manhattan community looks toward its next chapter of recovery and of renewal,” CB 1 chairwoman Julie Menin said ahead of the planting.
The name 'survivor tree' is also used to refer to a callery pear tree that just barely survived the collapse of the Twin Towers. The tree returned to the World Trade Center site last December and now stands among the 120 swamp white oaks on the memorial site.
Menin recalled Monday how she was warned again and again after the attack that no one would ever return to live or work Downtown. Today, the neighborhood has more residents than it did on Sept. 10, 2011, and is among the fastest growing in the city.
“[This tree] represents out community’s hope for the future and triumph over loss,” she said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had earlier met with families who'd lost loved ones as the 9/11 Memorial officially opened to the public, described the attack as a “cataclysmic moment” for residents across the city.
“A shroud of dust and grief and uncertainty hung over this neighborhood for months on end,” he said. But after a decade of rebuilding, Downtown is “more dynamic, more full of life than ever before.”
He said that in Jewish culture, one of the most meaningful acts to honor someone who has died is to plant a tree in their memory.
“Trees are a reminder that life renews itself,” Bloomberg said. “For every death there is a birth —even in tragedy there can be hope.”
The oak, which stands beside the Walloon Settlers Memorials headstone next to Castle Clinton Plaza, is the first of many trees that will be planted along the future Battery Garden Bikeway, which will connect the bicycle paths that run along the city’s east and west sides.