It is never easy to kill a tree. But sometimes it is a good idea.

For several months now, I’ve been working with Elizabeth Christian, our intern extraordinaire, on Then and Now photographs of Green-Wood. We thought it would be interesting to gather historic 19th century images of the cemetery, then go out and take photographs from the same spot, and compare them. Below right is Liz’s computer work on two images of the Niblo Mausoleum. William Niblo owned Niblo’s Theatre on Broadway in Manhattan; it was THE PLACE to perform in the mid-19th century. Now compare the two images here. The top image dates from about 1870 and shows the Niblo Mausoleum framed by two weeping willows. Most importantly, its wonderful construction and details are clearly visible from across Crescent Water. But take a look at the bottom image. I took it in fall 2010. Even in the fall, you can see that the crabapple tree, directly in front of Niblo, blocks the grand view of 140 years ago–you can barely see the Niblo Mausoleum behind that tree.

I showed these Then and Now images to our superintendent of the grounds, Art Presson. Art thought about it and realized what had to be done. That crabapple is now gone. And the great old vista has been restored, as you see in the above right photograph.

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