Story at a glance

  • An installation called Ghost Forest is being displayed in Madison Square Park.
  • Ghost Forest is a reflection of actual ghost forests, created by artist and architect Maya Lin.
  • The installation will remain in the park until Nov. 14.

An installation of 49, 40-foot tall barren coastal Atlantic cedars hulking over Madison Square Park are the eerie new work of artist and architect Maya Lin.

Called Ghost Forest, Lin’s installation is an urban reflection of the phenomenon of the same name in which climate change, rising sea levels and habitat destruction are leading to forests of dead and dying trees from saltwater rot. 


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The trees used by Lin that she refers to as “gentle giants” are still alive but dying from the rot in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. While the coastal cedars were once abundant along the East Coast, the aforementioned circumstances have dwindled the trees down to 50,000 acres.

Lin, 61, is well-known for her memorials and reflections of loss, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., in which somber black stone bears the more than 58,000 names of those who died in the Vietnam War.

Lin’s Ghost Forest also mirrors loss, visualizing the degradation of the environment and calling back to Manhattan’s forested history. 

“Technically what I’m drawn to in history is accurately remembering the past, because it’s got to teach us a different future,” Lin told The Guardian. “But the problem is if we don’t accurately remember the past, how can we help reinvent and define a different future?”

Ghost Forest also features a litany of resources and research on combating climate change. “I didn’t just want to talk about, ‘Hey, this is happening,’ without offering solutions,” Lin said.

Lin’s Ghost Forest will be featured in Madison Square Park until Nov. 14.


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Published on May 13, 2021