Empire State Plaza Tree
Albany, New York
Ellis letter offering seedlings to state foresters /
Preston letter requesting seedlings for New York /
O'Shea letter on Empire State Plaza tree
A sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) Moon Tree was planned to be planted at Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York,
possibly in the spring of 1977. The earliest record of the tree being considered for planting at Empire
State Plaza is from November 12, 1976, and a response on November 19. These are the only mentions of
Empire State Plaza that we have, so it is not clear that a tree was ever planted there.
The paper trail described below is the only evidence we have of the tree's history.
A letter addressed to "All State Foresters Field Offices" was sent by Howard Burnett (for Thomas
Ellis) of the Forest Service Office in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, to the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Lands and
Forests Administration, dated
May 16, 1975.
The letter, which was presumably the
beginning step for most of the Moon Trees planted around the country, offered
Moon Tree seedlings for planting in New York.
(Howard Burnett also took part in the first official Moon Tree planting in
and wrote a
first hand description
of the event.)
June 4, 1975,
James O. Preston, Director of the Division of Lands and Forests,
responded with a request to Howard Burnett for one or more of the Moon Tree seedlings for
September 30, 1975,
Thomas Ellis sent a letter to James Preston informing him that limited numbers of
seedlings would be available for each state for planting during the Bicentennial.
Preston wrote a letter to Deputy Commissioner Hullar on December 18 asking that three seedlings be
allocated to New York state, one for a planting at Fulton Ferry in Brooklyn, and two
more for planting in other areas. The letter mentions Syracuse, but there is no other
record of a tree being planted there.
Ellis letter to Preston on the seedlings /
Preston letter requesting three seedlings for New York
Barton Zeh wrote to Ron Dinas of the Institute of Forest Genetics in Gulfport,
March 15, 1976,
to arrange for shipping of three sycamore
seedlings after April 30, 1976, and inquiring about the exact date.
A memo and an airbill dated June 7, 1976, shows the sycamore seedlings were sent
by air freight from the Southern Forest Experiment Station in Gulfport to the
N.Y. State Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany. The seedlings
were shipped on Allegany Airlines to Albany Airport.
Zeh letter arranging shipping after April 30 /
Airbill showing seedlings delivered to New York /
Memo on air freighting of seedlings
November 12, 1976,
James Preston sent a letter to James O'Shea, Commissioner of the Office of General Services
in Albany New York, informing him that the state had three Moon Tree seedlings,
and offering one for planting at Empire State Plaza. The letter had an enclosured
information sheet and sample interpretive sign, which we do not have copies of.
O'Shea responded to Preston on
November 19, 1976,
stating his interest in planting a Moon Tree at the Empire State Plaza and planning to have
the Supervisor of Public Buildings Landscaping get in touch with Preston.
This is the last information we have on this tree, there is no further news or
documentation on the planting or disposition of the seedling.
Letters and information courtesy of Kendall Nagi and the New York State Archive.
History of the Sycamore Moon Trees
Moon Tree Home Page
Dr. David R. Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
NSSDCA, Mail Code 690.1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771
NASA Official: Dave Williams, email@example.com
Last Updated: 31 October 2023, DRW