Long time East Village resident Michael Natale really loves Tompkins Square Park. So much so, in fact, that the nature lover spent four years creating an incredibly detailed map of the green space’s trees. The volunteer cartographer photographed the park’s 550 leafy specimens and recorded each one’s location, genus and size for like-minded tree lovers everywhere.
Image via Wikipedia
Natale has lived in the East Village since the 70s, and has been a loyal friend to his favorite area park through its many changes from its dark days of drugs dealers and police riots to its rebirth as a family-friendly oasis in 1992. Now the 10-acre park is a neighborhood favorite, full of verdant landscapes and many, many trees.
As part of his photography hobby, Natale began to take photos of the park’s various flora. “Tompkins, I realized, was the neighborhood’s only sizable patch of green,” he said in an interview with The Villager. “I fell in love with these beautiful trees and began to wonder, what kind of tree was this one, that one? The Tompkins Square Park Conservancy had a tiny map with a few indications of trees, but it was way out of date, not helpful for serious study. So in 2011, I decided, O.K., I’ll make my own map and make it available to everyone.”
“As I was beginning, I read an article about two fellows who took two years to put out a book mapping Central Park’s trees,” he said. “So, I figured, if they could do huge Central Park in two years, I could do tiny Tompkins in a few months. Little did I know!”
Natale began his ambitious project by surveying the park in close detail, pacing off distances and measuring sections of the park’s wrought-iron fencing in order to achieve an accurately scaled map. He also contacted the park’s head gardeners with inquiries about the space’s flora as well as its history.
As he progressed, Natale used tree books as guides to draw the park’s leaves using digital drawing tools. On the final version of the map, he represented every tree with an image of its distinctive leaf shape. Additionally, brown circles identify each trunk’s diameter. The playful mapmaker was even able to represent the park’s more social side, mapping out playgrounds, where the sunbathers soak up the sun in summertime, and even where the rock bands play on Sundays.
Park lovers are encouraged to support Michael Natale’s amazing work and print out a Tompkins Square Park’s Trees Map.
Via The Villager