The Memorial Crabtree Project was hailed by the Ithaca Journal as its “Top Story of 1972”. This project was envisioned by the Ithaca Garden Club which donated 50 trees, the remainder of the 300 trees coming from community sources. Along with the tree planting in 1973, the Club placed a plaque to honor its first fifty years.
During 1972-1974 the Ithaca Garden Club implemented its largest and most extensive project to date with the planting of 300 crabapple trees along and near Cayuga Inlet. The project known as the Memorial Crabapple Tree Project was conceived by the then committee chairs of Civic and Conservation to mark the 50th anniversary of the Club.
Of the 300 trees, the Garden Club funded fifty in memory of the Club’s presidents during its fifty year history and the remaining trees were paid for by public sponsorships.
There were some issues with the sourcing of the trees but a further complication was that 300 trees were declared by the City to be too many and to compound the problem 1,000 square feet of land in Cass Park originally allocated for the project were withdrawn. So the planting plan actually implemented was 75 trees were planted in the spring of 1973 along the Inlet and in the fall 10 were planted along Brindley Street and the remaining 65 along Floral Avenue. The final 150 were planted in clumps of up to 19 trees so that by spring of 1974 all 300 trees were in the ground.
Two plaques were placed to mark the crabapple trees along the Inlet – one by the Garden Club and one by the Ithaca Rotary Club to commemorate trees given by the citizens of Ithaca and their friends.
To replace trees lost by attrition over the years, 40 new crabapples (Malus Floribunda, ‘Royalty’ and ‘Radiant’) were planted in April 1987 along and near Cayuga Inlet.
During construction of Island Fitness Center twelve of the crabapple trees planted back in 1973-74 were taken down. The owners of the new fitness center donated $600 to the Garden Club towards the cost of replacing the trees.
At the same time, four benches were installed and nestled among the newly planted trees located in two groupings on either side of the Inlet facing each other. The benches funded by the Club for a cost of $8,000 to support park development along the new Inlet Inland Promenade.
- Excerpts from “A Chronology of Civic Development Projects of the Ithaca Garden Club” by Bea Szekely July 2014