This now iconic American elm tree has stood vigil in downtown Oklahoma City for a century. Foresters agree it was likely planted sometime around 1920.
In historical photos, the already mature tree is visible in the backyard of a family home. In time, that home gave way to commercial development. Serendipitously, it is the only tree to survive when a parking lot calls for the removal of all others.
Through the decades, the tree bore witness to the changing skyline, the growth of the city and the day-to-day lives of generations of people. It was largely ignored – just another tree dotting downtown – until April 19, 1995.
On that fateful day, it became much more than just another downtown tree. It endured one of the worst terrorist attacks ever to occur on American Soil. The tree was situated directly across the street from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, completely exposed to the full force of the 4,000-pound bomb that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.
It easily could have fallen victim to the attack. And it nearly did – the tree was slated to be destroyed so shrapnel and evidence embedded in its trunk and branches could be recovered.
But like our city, our resolve and our unity – it survived. Ever since, it has been known as the Survivor Tree – an ever-present symbol of resilience. Learn more about how far the tree has come in The Survivor Tree – Today.