Man has been residing on tree for months in NYC
A veritable human squirrel has gone out on a limb and converted a massive tree in a Manhattan park into his own high-rise abode — and has been living there for months, The Post has learned.
Frequent visitors of Riverbank State Park in Upper Manhattan say the unidentified man, who looks to be in his 30s, has been living on the thicket of branches about 30 feet above a wooded area near railroad tracks — un’bough’ed by curious onlookers.
“Real estate; you take it where you can find it. I think he feels more protected than he would be down on the ground, but I kind of admire it,” said 47-year-old parkgoer Daniel Hobbs.
“It’s like a lot of work went into it. He just kind of made it his home.”
The “grassroots” denizen routinely scampers up and down with the precision of a tree sloth — but the speed of a cat — usually to make a fast buck collecting and returning cans and bottles, witnesses told The Post on Saturday March 26, 2022.
“He shimmied down a branch and then he put on rubber gloves and grabbed his sack of cans and went off to work basically,” said Hobbs. “It’s definitely not a convenient place to get up and get out of, but I’ve only seen him actually come out of it once.”
Added English Anderson, a longtime neighborhood resident, “He uses his hands to hold on to the branches to swing himself and make his way down. He seems strong; he is definitely fit.”
Anderson said it’s easy to tell someone lives there because there’s always food wrapping and other garbage tossed to the ground.
“Sometimes there were towels hanging on the limbs. There were pants hanging there, too,” she said.
Mayor Eric Adams, who wants to rid the city of homeless encampments flooding streets and parks — and reportedly is preparing a sweeping plan to rid the city of encampments over a two-week period — was aghast when shown a photo of the tree man.
“That’s not what we want,” said a stunned Adams at an unrelated Brooklyn event.
“That’s not dignified for people. That’s not what we want.”
In January 2021, the city estimated around 1,100 people live on the streets and in parks, although the tally is widely considered an undercount.
Many homeless people who live on the streets, parks and subway trains are typically fearful of going inside because longstanding safety and sanitation woes at city shelters continue to persist despite years of stories and promises of reforms.
Additionally, many shelters— including those designed to help bring the chronically homeless in off the streets — fail to offer essential mental health services, such as therapy, on-site.
Adams, however, said people should not be sleeping on the street — and especially not up a tree.
“It’s not dignified; it’s unsafe, the mayor said. “We can’t do anything about them sleeping, but we have to do something about the encampments. It’s unsanitary, [and] we are going to make sure we move them into proper care and treatment.”
Meanwhile, Anderson said she told parks workers about the squatter but they apparently didn’t want to be a stick in the mud, because they feel he’s “harmless” and is just one of many who “live” on parkland.
Park patrons say they only began noticing him after the cold weather arrived and the leaves fell, revealing his makeshift log ‘cabin’ — a blue tarp for protection and bag full of his belongings.
On Saturday, piles of trash covered a grassy terrain more than three stories below – all overlooking fenced-off tracks used by Amtrak.
The man was all bark but no bite when approached by a Post reporter, climbing down the tree and banging on a car window, and then sauntering off.