The History of the Christmas Tree People
Posted on December 5, 2018

Bohemia Blog by Agent Wesley Miller

As New York drops into its holiday hibernation, "tree men (and women)" are beginning their annual take over of New York street corners. Coming from all over the globe, these men and women bring with them hundreds of thousands of pines, spruce and fir trees into the city every year.

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Getting the Christmas tree into Manhattan, however, has brought it's fair share of dramatics. Don't forget that back in 2014, one building owner sought an emergency court order to block the sale of Christmas trees from the sidewalk in front of their high rise building. Manhattan Supreme Court refused to hear the case, blocking the scrooge-like move...though the landlord was hoping to bar the sale of trees at that location for the 2017 holiday season.

This wasn't the first time a powerful New Yorker declared war against the Christmas Tree. In 1938 Mayor La Guardia began cracking down on who he referred to as "immigrant peddlers," requiring them to obtain licenses before selling. The permit procedures dramatically cut the Christmas Tree inventory, leading to a major shortage that year. Public outcry ensued and the New York City Council finally passed an exception allowing tree-sellers to sell without permits throughout the month of December.

The thriving, and often time ignored, subculture that seeks to spread holiday cheer, brings with it people from all over the country. Newlyweds Rachael Gammon and James Marcus made the trek all the way from Alaska in 2016 to spend hours selling Christmas trees on the sidewalk (even using the facilities at the local CVS).

So while you're carrying your tree 9 blocks and 2 avenues into your 4th floor walk-up, take a second to remember those who spend the holidays away from their loved ones so that we may spend it with ours. You can learn more about these "Christmas Tree People" in the 2015 documentary Tree Man.

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