Just before 4 PM on August 2, 2018, I was in the midst of a walk across the Manhattan Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn. A little more two weeks later, I would be inspired to take a picture from the initial walkway of the Bridge. On August 2, however, I was compelled to take a picture a bit further along, but still firmly in the first half of my walk to Brooklyn.
The first half of the Manhattan Bridge carries over land. Much of it cuts through a series of run-down tenement buildings – the kind that conjure images of large families sharing small apartments. Many, if not most, carry the graffiti scars of New York City’s bad old days from the 70s through the early 90s, days that too many in the City seem to be trying to rekindle.
As one walks, one is wont to look at the scenery, even if it is scenery that he or she has seen many times before. On this walk, one of the tenements that I had walked past on the Bridge many times caught my attention. The heavily-tagged building itself did not capture my attention however, but rather something on top of the building. On top of the tenement stood a brave little tree, growing from what was likely a tiny patch of dirt in the smallest of crevices. The brave little tree was bristled by the wind, leaning ever so slightly.
At the moment I walked by, the tree had a backdrop befitting its courage and resourcefulness. Directly behind the tree sat a tornado-shaped cloud, illuminated by the golden late-afternoon summer sun. Loath to let such a moment pass, I used my BlackBerry Classic to take several pictures of the brave little tree. You will find two of the pictures below. If you look closely, you will note the subtle effect of the soft afternoon breeze.
A tree grew on Manhattan, and I found it inspiring in a way. The seeds that resulted in the tree had somehow found themselves in a generally inhospitable spot for greenery. Yet, undeterred, they managed to grow, sprouting a reasonably-sized small tree from a tiny space atop a decaying tenement building. Surrounded by graffiti that had been left unmolested for decades and sitting in front of the ugliest building in the Manhattan skyline – the Verizon building – the tree stood athwart its unaesthetic surroundings, commanding us to stop and admire something pretty and quaint.
The brave little tree would sadly not stand forever. If I recall, it managed to survive the winter, but later in 2019, succumbed to high winds, leaving only its lower half. At some point thereafter, it disappeared entirely. But its memory lives on in The New Leaf Journal, immortalized at its peak. It defiantly grew in hostile surroundings. Ugliness corrupts, but beauty heals. The tree that grew on Manhattan served as a noble example of beauty’s tendency to take root in even the most inhospitable places.