On a day during February 1867, two vehicles collided on the northeast corner of Third Avenue and 13th Street. A casualty of the accident was one of the oldest relics of early New York.
The vehicles hit a pear tree brought from Holland by Peter Stuyvesant during 1647. He had planted it to create an orchard on his estate.
This one tree had survived for more than two centuries, and it was an inspiration for journalists, diarists and poets. Beneath this tree had passed many heroes of the spirited times leading to the American Revolution.
Shoots and Fruit
For a century, the tree flourished. Suddenly, its branches decayed and it was assumed dead. Then, it sprouted new shoots.
On May 4, 1820, when the tree was 173 years old, an article in the New York Evening Post stated “the tree appears to be no more than 30 years old; the fruit ripens the latter part of August, has a rich succulent flavor, and has been known by the name of the spice pear…This is probably the oldest fruit tree in America.”
A number of years after the tree’s bicentennial, a contemporary writer indicated that an “ironing railing protects it, and it may survive a century longer.”
Due to the accident on that winter day of 1867, that was not to occur. Instead, a cross section of the tree now resides in the New-York Historical Society.