The Tree That Would Not Be Broken

It was the last living thing rescued from the ruins of 9/11. A dozen years later, one mythical pear tree is finally home, and branching out from Ground Zero in mystical ways.

By | June 17, 2014

For a few years, the 9/11 Survivor Tree was lost.

Well, not really lost. Richie Cabo, horticulturalist for the Parks Department, knew exactly where it was. Since shortly after 9/11/01, he had been taking loving care of the Callery pear tree at a nursery in the Bronx. But Ron Vega of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum had no idea where the tree was. And he wanted to bring it home.

Vega had heard rumors of the Survivor Tree’s existence from co-workers. Its story had taken on almost mythic proportions: the last living thing to come out of the rubble of Ground Zero, a charred stump that, to an untrained eye, looked dead. Apparently, someone from some governmental agency was taking care of the tree, although no one knew who or where. Eventually, after a lot of asking around, Vega tracked down the Survivor Tree and set in motion its second act.

“The 9/11 Survivor Tree” story will ultimately become part of a feature-length documentary, “The Trees,” about the design and construction of the 9/11 Memorial plaza. Visit the film’s Kickstarter campaign to learn more.


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