December 29, 2021

An NYC Christmas Tree Tour

An NYC Christmas Tree Tour

A portrait of Susan Birnbaum with her trademark red hair.
Written by Susan Birnbaum
December 29, 2021

An NYC Christmas Tree Tour

Christmas in NYC wouldn’t be the same without all of the amazing trees surrounding the city and becoming a backdrop for photos seen across the world.  It started as a German tradition but has evolved NYC into a winter wonderland.

It might be late but still, Happy Holidays everyone! Join us in our Little Christmas Tree tour experience here in NYC! ????

To get started, let’s share a bit of the history of the trees in NY:

Now let’s start a Christmas Tree tour around NYC! We will start the walk on Park Ave at 42 St. and end it at 5st St and 5th Ave.

Bryant Park Christmas Tree (Image by Shinya Suzuki

Stand at the corner of 42nd St & Park Ave looking north. You will see the Park Avenue Trees which started as a tradition in 1945 when a small group of Park Ave families, led by Mrs. Stephen C. Clark, the wife of an heir to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, lit trees to honor her son and all the men and women who died in WWII. 

Enjoy the trees all the way from 42nd St to 96th St.
Walk along 42nd St to Bryant Park’s Winter Village, at 42nd between 5th and 6th Avenue, you will see a 55 foot Norway Spruce decorated with 30,000 red and white LED lights. Among the lights, you can see 3,500 star-bursts, balls, snowflakes, and icicle ornaments in wintry silver, pearly white, and iridescent red and blue. Check out the shops, put on your ice skates, and take a free twirl on the ice skating rink.

Walk up 5th Ave to see the Rockefeller Center Tree at 47th street. This year it hails from Elkton Maryland. It is a 79 foot Norway Spruce with 50,000 multi-colored dazzlings LED lights and a 900 pound Swarovski crystal star that tops the 12-ton tree.

From Rockefeller Center take the M5 or M7 bus from 6th Ave up to Lincoln Center.  Once you get off at 63rd St and Broadway you can see the Lincoln Center Tree which is decorated with star-shaped ornaments designed by community members in partnership with a local pottery studio Color Me Mine.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (Image by Susan Birnbaum)

Origami Christmas Tree (Image by AMNH)

Walk north on Broadway to 72nd St, turning right until you get to Central Park West, and walk north the rest of the way to the Museum of Natural History at 81st St and Central Park West to see the 50-year tradition of decorating the tree with origami. This year 1000 ornaments reflect models from the new Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of gems and Minerals as well as the iconic blue whale, Titansaurus Rex.  In addition, there are pieces related to the exhibit Sharks.

Back to 5th Ave and 82 St. and The Metropolitan Museum of Art at 82 St., This tree has a long-standing tradition with its 18th Century Neapolitan Nativity Scene. The scene is embellished with a profuse array of diminutive, lifelike attendant figures that reflect the multicultural population of the Mediterranean town. Silk-robed angels hover above the 20-foot candle-lit blue spruce. Recorded music adds to the enjoyment of this holiday display.

Walk down to the Plaza Hotel at 59th St and 5th Ave to see the 6-foot tree take center stage in the foyer featuring a fabulous collection of beautiful snowflakes curated by Saks 5th Ave.

Saks 5th Avenue Christmas Tree (Image by Fine Art America)

UNICEF Snowflake (Image by Ralph Daily

As you end your walk going south on 5th Ave, I want to mention another of NYC’s iconic Christmas decorations although it is not a tree. In the heart of the city at 57th st and 5th ave is the UNICEF Snowflake, which is a special symbol for the world’s most vulnerable children.  The snowflake contains 16,000 crystal prisms, is 23 feet wide, over 28 feet tall, and weighs more than 3,300 pounds. It hangs each year as a reminder of UNICEF’s commitment to reach a day when zero children die from preventable causes.

Stay tuned to see what happens next week as we explore the history of the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop.  COVID, COVID, COVID has certainly turned many traditions upside down. Join us in our Virtual and In-Person Tour!

Enjoy the holiday stroll and let me know which ones you like the most! Leave your comments below ????

SusanSez was founded by Susan Birnbaum. Susan has had a lifelong interest in history. Susan is a twenty year member of the Guides Association of NYC, and a member of The Bronx, Brooklyn, and New York Historical Societies. In addition to all of this; she is also a docent at at the Museum of the City of New York. She is also the recipient of The Bronx Tourism Award from The Bronx Tourism Council for her unparalleled commitment to sharing the rich history of The Bronx.
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