The block association has a year-round beautification program, the goal of which is to make the block look attractive, secure, and safe. We focus on these areas:

Tree care Over the years, we planted and now maintain 26 trees. In the summer, block residents and building staff water regularly. We periodically hire a professional tree care company to apply a deep root fertilizer and prune.
Flowers and plants
Spring tulips at 905 West End Ave.

Spring tulips at 905 West End Ave.

The block association also directs and maintains the planting of the tree gardens with the help of all our residents and building supers. Perennial plants were planted in 2013 for the first time since the tree beds were much larger. The perennials include Bleeding Heart, Hosta, and Ivy. Annual plants, such as begonias, are also added to supply contrast and color. In 2014, we hired a professional landscaping company, Urban Explorations to plant the summer flowers in order to provide a good foundation for maintaining our future gardens.  As a result, the summer tree gardens provide a comforting respite during a walk on West 104th Street. In the fall, tulip and daffodil bulbs are planted to provide us with a sure sign of spring after a long winter.



Tree guards The block association maintains the iron guards that surround each tree garden. In 2001, we raised $2,600 through a beautification challenge grant to purchase three tree guards for new trees at 315 Riverside Dr. In 1995, we raised funds to replace each tree guard (we donated the old ones to nearby blocks). The uniform style tree guard sends a signal to residents and visitors that the block is organized and cares about its appearance. (The tree guards were made for us by 786 Ironworks in Brooklyn [718 418 4808].In 2013, in collaboration with the City Parks Department, the tree gardens were elongated to prevent soil erosion. As a result, the tree guards themselves were uniformly replaced with the assistance of a city grant, contributions from the residents, co-op boards, and the block association dues. The tree guards were installed with a border of Belgian block. As a result, we have identical tree guards surrounding the tree gardens which bring a sense of cohesiveness to our street and residents.
Graffiti removal We ask landlords and managing agents to remove graffiti as soon as it appears.
Sidewalks A crack-free, level sidewalk not only looks better, it’s safer to walk on as well. The block association has helped landlords and owners maintain their sidewalks by identifying vendors to repair or replace them as necessary.

Our streetlights

Lamp315W104Since March 2006 our street has had 1890’s-style streetlights (see photo at left) unlike most neighboring blocks which have 1950’s ‘cobra’ streetlights. How did we get lucky enough to have these vintage lights, called F poles?

In 2002, Steve Zirinsky, a block resident and architect, had a vision of a better looking block that included replacing the 1950’s lights with replicas of the lights that were on the block when it was developed in the 1890s. Then we approached our neighbors and co-op boards, and asked if they would be willing to contribute $9,500 toward the cost of the lights. They said Yes!

So Steve began a near two-year series of plan reviews and approvals by the City Art Commission, Community Board 7, and the Department of Transportation. Then, it was off to the foundry in Pennsylvania where the plans were molded into the shape of the slender, delicate poles you see on the street.

Our trees

If any readers can supply the missing planting dates, we would be grateful! The 2006 column provides the circumference in inches measured five feet above the ground.

Address Type Year planted / original size July 2006 size
320 RSD side south Honey locust Nov 2004 8.25
320 RSD side north Honey locust Nov 2004 7.5
320 RSD front west Honey locust 1975 36.25
320 RSD front east Honey locust 1975 41.5
319 W 104 Willow oak ? 46.75
315 W 104 Honey locust Jun 1996 / 6.75 16.75
309 W 104 Saphora ? 26.25
905 WEA side Saphora ? 31.25
905 WEA side west Pin oak Dec 1997 / 6.25 14.25
905 WEA side middle Linden 2007
905 WEA side east Pin oak Dec 1997 / 6.25 16.25
905 WEA front south Honey locust Dec 2005 /
905 WEA front north Honey Locust ? 18.25
315 RSD side south Linden Nov 2000 / 5.75 12
315 RSD side middle Linden Nov 2000 / 6.25 13.5
315 RSD side north Linden Nov 2000 / 6.5 12.5
315 RSD front west Honey locust 1975 16.25
315 RSD front east Honey locust 2003 13.5
322 W 104 London plane ? 27.75
318 W 104 London plane 2003 10.25
314 W 104  To Be Planted Spring 2016
308 W 104 Gingko Dec 2005 / 6.75
895 WEA side east Maple ? 17.5
895 WEA side west Maple ? 20
895 WEA front north Honey locust 1997 17.75
895 WEA front south Honey locust April 1999 14.75

Ned Barnard’s New York City tree articles

Bartlett Tree Service plants the honey locust tree in front of 315 West 104 in 1996

Bartlett Tree Service plants the honey locust
tree in front of 315 West 104 in 1996

Ned is a former board member and the author of New York City Trees: A Field Guide for the Metropolitan Area, published Fall 2002 by Columbia University Press and written with the support of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Since 1998, the block association has been privileged to publish stories on Ned’s favorite trees in our newsletter, some of which appear in his book. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we have!