Christmas and the Catskills

Christmas trees harvested in the Catskills make their way to the sidewalks of New York City by horse-drawn carriage.

According to The New York Historical Society, the now famous Christmas tree displays in New York City began as early as 1851. A New York Times article published that year reported on a Catskills woodsman named Mark Carr, who set up an outdoor store of his “mountain novelties” on the corner of Greenwich and Vesey Streets, now the site of The National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The image above, recently shared to the Greene County History page on Facebook (a wonderful resource if you’re not already following it), shows part of the train journey 11,000 Christmas trees made in 1901 from the mountain top to NYC via the Ulster & Delaware Railroad. According to local historian John Ham, “In October 1899, four farmers from Elka Park and Platte Clove cut 8800 Balsam and Spruce trees to ship to New York City.”

Our mountain top’s high altitudes and attendant lower temperatures allow for the growth of balsam fir and red spruce trees, species that are commonly used as Christmas trees for their evergreen and fragrant foliage.

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