Artist brings 4,000 redwood trees to Downtown Brooklyn

October 3, 2016

A big green sign that greets drivers from Manhattan coming over the Williamsburg Bridge reads, “Name It…We Got It!” Among the many things to which the borough can now lay claim: A dense grove of 4,000 redwood trees in the middle of Downtown Brooklyn‘s Metrotech Commons. It’s this unlikely juxtaposition that has brought the trees, with roots in prehistoric times and known to grow bigger than the Flatiron Building and longer than the Brooklyn Bridge, to this spot steps from Shake Shack. The mini-redwood forest is called “Lost Man Creek,” an art installation by Brooklyn-based artist Spencer Finch that opened on October 1. It’s a scaled-down (to one hundredth the size) replica of a 790-acre section of California’s Redwood National Park, planted in partnership with the Save the Redwoods League.

Photo: Timothy Schenck Photo: Timothy Schenck

Finch was intrigued by the idea of  “…something so wild, say as Redwood forests, being brought into such an urban environment, like this one,” when the New York nonprofit Public Art Fund first approached him about conceiving a project for MetroTech Commons two years prior. The trees Finch used for the project are young dawn redwoods, a genus related to those giant sequoias, and one that apparently already grows on some New York City streets. In some environments the trees are known to exceed the height of the urban landscapes that surround them, though at the moment the the young trees are only about one to four feet high.

The artists tells 6sqft he will let the leaves change color and fall much like they would if they were in a California forest, but he will trim them over the course of the installation to maintain the proper scale.

Spencer Finch, redwood, redwood trees, Lost Man Creek, Downtown Brooklyn

Spencer Finch redwood trees, Lost Man Creek, Downtown BrooklynPhoto: Timothy Schenck

The New Haven, Connecticut-born Finch has in the past produced works that, for example, have turned the colors of a sunset into ice cream, making him perfect for today’s Brooklyn. His work investigates the properties of light, color, nature, and perception; as the project’s site states, “Lost Man Creek” “is a “living artwork for the heart of Downtown Brooklyn that makes the intangible scale of a redwood forest tangible. Through this new perspective, the artwork becomes a universal reminder of nature’s power to inspire, inviting us to take a leap from diminutive to gigantic and from urban center to California forest.”

Spencer Finch, redwood, redwood trees, Lost Man Creek, Downtown Brooklyn
Photo: Timothy Schenck

Spencer Finch, redwood, redwood trees, Lost Man Creek, Downtown Brooklyn


All photos by Martina Maffini for 6sqft except where noted.

Get Inspired by NYC.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. W

    i am thinking that these are redwood “metasequoia”, a lovely tree that grows well here in the northeast,, bbut i dont think these trees are the iconic seqquoias from the Pacific coast.

  2. T

    Yes, these Dawn redwoods are native to China. It seems that, even in art installations looking to mimic an ancient North American forest, no one can avoid Chinese imports! What a shame. At least, had the native redwoods been used, they could have been taken west and planted, adding to the native growth there. Now, they will become part of the takeover of North America by non-natives plants.