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The Tricky Nature of Reusing Urban Timber

Two Connecticut brothers collect the remains of city trees and fashion them into furniture and art.
relates to The Tricky Nature of Reusing Urban Timber
Courtesy of Derek Dudek

The benefits of urban trees are well documented, from storing carbon and absorbing rainfall to easing depression and increasing property values. But what happens to our stately benefactors when they come down due to disease, development, weather, or old age? Millions of trees in the United States meet this fate every year; New York City alone cuts down around 8,000 trees annually.

The urban forest’s deceased are generally ground up and sent to the dump, say Ted and Zeb Esselstyn, brothers who create furniture and wall art from felled urban trees and sell them via their business, City Bench. “Urban wood is a seriously un-utilized resource in our country’s metropolitan areas,” says Zeb. The brothers collect logs of such wood from cities in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, though they particularly work with wood from New Haven, where they’re based.