At the northeast corner of 13th and 3rd once stood the Stuyvesant Pear Tree, planted in 1667 by Peter Stuyvesant and felled 200 years later by a winter storm and a wayward horse in 1867. Below is a rare photo of the tree in better days.
photo from NYPL
The plaque that marked the presence of the pear tree has a long and circuitous history, which you can read about here in the Villager. In short: In 1890, the Holland Society erected the plaque on the wall of the Pear Tree drugstore, later Kiehl's, at 13th and 3rd. When Kiehl's moved one step to the north, the plaque came down, went to St. Marks Church, then to Mr. Charles Schlesinger, who owned the Bendiner & Schlesinger lab building at 3rd and 10th.
Then Kiehl's expanded back into its original corner spot, which was re-dedicated Pear Tree Corner in 2003, after L'Oreal bought out the long-time local business. And the historic lab building was demolished in 2005 to build what is now an SVA dorm. The plaque, once green, was given a deep cleaning and placed back in its original spot.
photo by WallyG
Because 10th Street is rather elegant here, unlike 13th, and intersects with Stuyvesant, it has the sort of block association that does things like plant trees. Inspired by Stuyvesant's pear and the misplaced plaque, in about the 1970s the block association lined 10th St. with flowering pear trees. This trend was then repeated all over the East Village.
“We were one of the first streets to have them," the block association president told The Villager, "Now they are ubiquitous."
So, when in spring you are enjoying the papery flutter of the pear trees' white blossoms, and in autumn admiring their glossy red leaves--they are usually first to flower and last to fall--you can thank Mr. Schlesinger (Jr.) for keeping that plaque in its wrong place.