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On the Trail of New York's Greatest Trees

One writer is setting out to find all 60 of the specimens on the city’s list of notable arbors amid the concrete.
New York's streets are full of startling biodiversity hiding in plain sight.
New York's streets are full of startling biodiversity hiding in plain sight.Leesh Adamerovich

"My Secret City" is a collaboration between CityLab and Narratively, a digital publication featuring extraordinary stories of ordinary people, told through video, text, photo essays, comics journalism and more.

In 1967, an aging Marianne Moore wrote a poem to help save a Brooklyn tree. With a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award to her name, the septuagenarian had attained an improbable height for a modernist poet: public popularity. Newspapers regularly pictured her in an anachronistic black cape and velvet tricorn hat; the following year she was even invited to throw out the opening pitch for the Yankees. So it was perhaps no surprise that when the recently-formed Friends of Prospect Park in Brooklyn noticed a rare camperdown elm near the Boathouse that was “a mere shell, hollow to the base, and further weakened by a great untreated wound,” they asked her for a poem.