On the eve of the first Earth Day in 1969, a crowd of more than 1,000 gathered at Wall and Broad streets to celebrate the occasion in Lower Manhattan. Today, on the 40th Earth Day celebration, Downtown is still getting greener. The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation just planted five London plane trees at 1 New York Plaza on Water Street and a sixth tree, a honey locust, in front of 75 Wall St. as part of its MillionTreesNYC initiative in time for Earth Day. They are the first
trees planted below Chambers Street under the city’s program.

“Lower Manhattan is currently home to millions of square feet of green real estate – with millions more on the way as the World Trade Center is rebuilt,” said Elizabeth H. Berger, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York. “Ninety percent of Downtown’s workers take public transportation or walk to the office – and all of the district’s restaurants, shops, schools and attractions are within walking distance. The greener our neighborhood grows, the more intense our draw becomes as a global, 21st-century destination of choice.”

MillionTreesNYC is a key component of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC to create a healthier, more sustainable city. A public-private partnership between the City of New York and New York Restoration Project, MillionTreesNYC is planting and caring for one million new trees in the five boroughs by 2017. Through MillionTreesNYC, the Parks Department is planting trees in parks, natural areas and on streets – including those in Lower Manhattan.

By supporting the plantings, property owners and pedestrians will benefit and the trees will have a safe home protected by decorative Downtown Alliance tree pit guards. The city will plant a seventh tree – in Trinity Plaza Park – in the coming weeks.

“MillionTreesNYC is pleased to plant new street trees in Lower Manhattan just in time for Earth Day,” said Parks’ Director of MillionTreesNYC Morgan Monaco. “The new trees will bring many benefits to the area by providing shade, lowering summer air temperatures, slowing global warming, absorbing pollutants and beautifying the streets. Above all, street trees are a critical component of attracting customers to businesses and in that respect MillionTreesNYC is excited to grow together with Lower Manhattan.” The Downtown Alliance, the nation’s largest Business Improvement District, is not only making Lower Manhattan greener for Earth Day, but also across the district throughout
the year. This next week, on Saturday, May 1, the Downtown Alliance will hold its third annual Spring Community Planting Day, where Lower Manhattan residents will plant more than 300 annuals in Wall Street Park.

Spring Community Planting Day is part of the Alliance for Downtown New York’s Going Green Downtown initiative, a series of community-building events that have helped make Downtown one of the nation’s greenest central business districts.

"This is a great example of the many community based activities that happen every year to commemorate Earth Day,” said Pamela Lippe, Executive Director of Earth Day New York. “Neighborhood plantings provide numerous benefits and help people connect directly with the earth and its importance to our quality of life.”

The Going Green series runs year-round, with the annual Fall Community Planting day in Bowling Green and Mulch Mania, where, in partnership with NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and Sanitation Department, Downtown residents’ holiday trees are recycled into mulch to be used in city parks.

Additionally, the Downtown Alliance recently co-sponsored Green Within Reach, a gathering of more than 175 property owners, brokers, engineers, architects and commercial tenants gathered at The New York Academy of Sciences to learn about the latest requirements for energy efficiency and financial incentives available to help make every building in the city greener.