5. Madison Square Park Tree

Madison Square Park Christmas Tree

The very first public holiday tree lighting in the United States took place not at Rockefeller Center, but in Madison Square Park on Christmas Eve 1912. The tree was called the “Tree of Light.” The idea of a public holiday tree lighting was conceived by social activist Emilie D. Lee Hereshoff. Hereshoff wanted to provide those who couldn’t afford their own tree with a special celebration.

The first public New York City Christmas tree, which was sixty feet high and twenty feet wide, was donated by The Adirondack Club. At least 20,000 New Yorkers came out to see that first lighting ceremony. When you visit the tree today, you can also stop by the Star of Hope. This star-topped pole marks the spot where the first tree was placed. The tree is now in the northern section of the park.