Tree Arrivals Are Sign of Nature and Progress at WTC's Liberty Park

A multi-stem honey locust is lowered to Liberty Park, under construction on the south side of the World Trade Center site. About 40 trees are being planted in the coming days, with another 10 trees arriving in the spring. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Nov. 23, 2015

Liberty Park, under construction at the southern end of the World Trade Center site, began to take on the look of a real park on Monday as tree planting went into high gear.

One by one, honey locusts—among five species planned for the park—were hoisted by crane and placed in pits around the site, an elevated acre atop the World Trade Center’s Vehicle Security Center.

By next spring, the young trees will have been joined by a wide array of seasonal plantings, including more than a thousand shrubs. In addition, a “living wall” on the 300-foot-long, 25-foot-high side of the structure along Liberty Street will be covered with a variety of greenery.

“It’ll be a wonderful display of color,” said Steven Plate, director of World Trade Center construction for the Port Authority, which is in charge of the project.

Speaking to reporters at the site, where men were at work raking topsoil, installing benches and pavers, and finishing the irrigation system, Plate said he expects the park to be completed by next summer “if we’re able to work around some of the challenges.”

One question mark is the completion date of the Liberty Street Bridge, which spans West Street, from Brookfield Place to the park.

The  bridge is a joint project of the Port Authority, Brookfield Properties and the Battery Park City Authority. Plate said it is not known whether the bridge would have to be in operation in order to open the park, but he would “prefer” it.

The authority, Plate said, is also looking for ways to open the $50 million park while construction of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, on the eastern end of the site, is underway.

Completion of the Santiago Calatrava-designed church, which replaces its modest predecessor destroyed by the collapse of the twin towers, is expected in summer, 2017.

Once the park does open, Plate said, one of its best features will be the view from a balcony that overlooks the September 11 memorial plaza and museum.

“It’s really going to be a very special place,” Plate said. “People can look over the site and just enjoy what we built here for decades and centuries to come.”