Friday, December 18, 2009

O Christmas Tree: NYC Edition

Whether our tree could be right at home in an Upper East Side townhouse, or leans a little too far over like a Charlie Brown Tree, we love to decorate our Christmas trees in any shape, size, and theme.

Fortunetly for all of us tree-lovers, New York is the place to be to see the best and sparkliest trees in the world. The best thing about the holiday trees in New York? They’re all free! Spend the last weekend before Christmas checking out these beauties- and finishing your shopping, of course.

Get inspired for your own tree!

1. Rockefeller Center, 30 Rockefeller Plaza between 49th and 50th Sts

5:30a–11:30p (and Christmas 24hrs)

Visit in the morning or late at night

Stats: 76 feet and full of sparkle: 30,000 lights and a Swarovski star

Fun fact: A team of 15 people spent 2,500 hours designing and assembling the star, which measures 9.5 feet in diameter, weighs 550 pounds and is covered with 25,000 crystals.

2. Metropolitan Museum, Medieval Sculpture hall, 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St


Visit Wednesday mornings, which are the quietest

Stats: An angel-laden Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque crèche

Fun fact: With almost daily visits, Linn Howard is likely the most frequent guest of the Met’s tree and Nativity display—and for good reason. The collection of more than 200 18th-century Neapolitan crèche figures was donated by her mother, Loretta Hines Howard, and began in Mom’s living room in 1924.

3. Park Avenue Memorial Trees, Park Ave between 54th and 97th Sts 


Visit Wednesday mornings, which are the quietest

Stats: An angel-laden Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque crèche

Fun fact: These sparkling trees were first lit in 1945 to honor casualties of World War II.

4. Madison Square Park
, 26th St between Fifth and Madison Aves

24 hours

Visit around 4pm, when the lights go on

Theme: “Winter Wishes,” with blue, green and pink decorations

Fun fact: Locate the star on top of the post in the middle of the south edge of the park. That marks the spot of the city’s first community holiday tree, which was funded in 1912 by a wealthy resident who wanted to make sure no one went without a tannenbaum.

5. Lincoln Square, Dante Park, Broadway between 63rd and 64th Sts

Daily, 4p-midnight

Visit after 7p if you want to avoid the most amount of kids

Fun fact: Easy word-game ornaments adorn this holiday fir, decorated by self-described “nice Jewish girl from Minnesota” Jane Jenni. Her favorite piece? The one that reads HIPPIE next to an image of a baby duck (get it? hippie chick?). “I’m a bit of one,” she says. “I went to Berkeley in the ’60s and so the icon has become a symbol for that time of my life.”

6. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx River Pkwy at Fordham Rd,

Tue–Sun 10a–7p

The trees are most vibrant as day turns to night, but it never really gets crowded

States: One isn’t enough—there are nine trees decorated with colored balls, pinecones and lights.

Fun fact: Instead of humans with saws taking ’em down, it’s workhorses that pull the pines out of the ground. After the season, they’re composted and mulched, to scatter around the NYBG grounds.

7. Brooklyn Borough Hall
, Brooklyn Borough Hall Plaza, Court St between Joralemon and Montague Sts, Downtown Brooklyn

Daily 5:30a–11:30p, Christmas is 24hrs, New Year’s Even 5:30am-9pm

Visit before dinner for a festive tree view. Crowds are not an issue.

Stats: Straight-up decorations and lights

Fun fact: This tree started life in Canaan, Vermont, and was brought to the Brooklyn Terminal Market, where someone from the Parks Department picked it out. The annual selection is based on tree size and type.

8. Cathedral of St. John the Divine Peace Tree
, 1047 Amsterdam Ave at 112th St

5:30a–11:30p, Christmas is 24hrs, New Year’s Even 5:30am-9pm

Visit anytime.

Insider tidbit This tree is bedecked with more than 1,000 hand-folded paper cranes symbolizing peace, a tradition started 28 years ago by origami artist Lore Schirokauer, who made all the cranes on the first tree (look for the faded paper to spot the old ornaments).

9. New York Stock Exchange
, Broad St between Exchange Pl and Wall St

Daily 24hrs

Stats: This is the largest tree after Rock Center’s, and it plugs its sponsor a whopping 250

Visit during weekday business hours, when everyone is working

Fun fact: This 65-foot-tall tree is decorated with 10,000 lights and 250 balls—not to mention a six-foot, 100-pound star on top.

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