A Tree that Mattered
Journeys into River Edge
Ever grow attached to a tree?
Maybe one your property or perhaps the property of a neighbor down the street?
And has your heart ever broken when you discovered that a tree service crew had arrived to remove a tree that somehow came to matter to you?
Well, once upon a time there was a tree along our streets that captured the imagination of pretty much the whole community. This tree held such a special place in people’s hearts that it became the source of controversy when it was announced that the tree would have to go as part of a street widening project.
The location was Kinderkamack Road on the west side, just north of Midland Avenue. Today it is where the street widens (when traveling south from Oradell) to allow a right turn lane from Kinderkamack to Midland. It also provides access (not sure if easier) into the popular strip mall with Midland Cleaners, Kinderkamack Bagels and a Taste of Greece.
The tree was a sycamore, and according to a local history it was 150 years old when removed in 1974. So integral was the tree to the community that its removal was included in the local history book as a major event in the history of the River Edge.
There is not much else in the way of written materials about the tree or its demise. But if memory stands me correct, many in the community rallied to try to save the tree. But in this instance those petitioning were not fighting “Borough Hall”, but rather the road engineers of the County of Bergen.
You see, both Kinderkamack Road and Midland are “county roads”. And, in the 1970’s, the area really started to experience acceleration in the pace of urbanization and change, a pattern, of course, that continues today. For example, that of K-mack & Midland intersection for a long time did not have a traffic light. Instead there was a stop sign as one came down the hill on Midland (Similar stop signs existed at Continental and Howland). As part of a plan to modernize the intersection and make it safer, the tree, we were told, had to go.
Now that moment is almost 50 years removed.
Today most have no recollection nor would they care. But there are still a couple of folks who remember that big old tree and just how much it mattered to so many.