Hangman's Elm

Hangman's Elm, or simply "The Hanging Tree", is an English Elm located at the northwest corner in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City. It stood at 135 feet (41.15 m) tall when last measured nearly 35 years ago,[1] and has a diameter of 67 inches (1.70 m).[2][3]

Hangman's Elm

In 1989, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation determined that this English Elm was 310 years old, although that was subsequently revised to "more than 300 years old".[2]). As a result, it is considered to be Manhattan's oldest,[4] outliving Peter Stuyvesant’s pear tree at the northeast corner of 13th Street and Third Avenue, and the great Tulip poplar at Shorakapkok in Manhattan's Inwood neighborhood.[citation needed]

The earliest references to the elm as a "hanging tree" date from the late 19th century, long after the supposed hangings were said to have taken place and many come from the accounts of the Marquis de Lafayette.[5] Recent extensive research into the park's history by more than one historian[6][7] has shown that the tree was on a private farm until the land was bought by the city and added to Washington Square in 1827. No public records exist of hangings from this tree.

The only recorded execution in this area was of Rose Butler, in 1820, for arson.[8] She was hanged from a gallows in the city's potter's field, on the eastern side of Minetta Creek, about 500 feet (150 meters) from the elm; at that time, Minetta Creek ran in a shallow ravine between the potter's field and the farm where the elm stood.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "New York: A Concrete Jungle And 'City Of Trees,' Too".
  2. ^ a b "Great Trees : English Elm : NYC Parks". www.nycgovparks.org.
  3. ^ Swett, Benjamin (2017-03-14). Trees of New York City. ISBN 9781581574432.
  4. ^ "The Hangman's Elm". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 2021-10-26.
  5. ^ Cohen, Rich (2019-06-02). "Op-Ed: New York's last public execution, months before the Civil War, has lessons for today". Retrieved 2021-10-26.
  6. ^ Geismar, Ph.D., LLC, Joan H. Washington Square Phase 1A Archaeological Assessment (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-07-03.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Harris, Luther. Around Washington Square: An Illustrated History of Greenwich Village.
  8. ^ Schlossberg, Tatiana (2015-11-18). "New York Today: Nature, Preserved". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-10-26.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 40°43′55″N 73°59′55″W / 40.7319444444°N 73.9986111111°W / 40.7319444444; -73.9986111111