Strong winds blow down trees in Back Bay, on Boston Common

A woman with her luggage rolled past wires, cut trees, and debris Thursday.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
A woman with her luggage rolled past wires, cut trees, and debris Thursday.

Strong winds toppled around 15 trees in the city of Boston Thursday, officials said, one of which almost landed on a woman relaxing in the Common.

“I was sitting down eating my lunch, and . . . a tree came barreling towards me, and I just ran for my life. I was shocked, because I didn’t hear it crack or anything like that,” said Dora Thomas, a Dorchester resident who was in the area visiting a client. “Usually when a tree falls, you hear the cracking, but I didn’t hear anything.”

The tree that cut Thomas’s lunch break short was a Norway Maple 12 inches in diameter, Boston city officials said. The Department of Parks and Recreation removed the tree, which Thomas said came out of the ground at the roots.


“It came down from the stump of the tree,” she said. “It just shifted out of the ground.”

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The tree was part of the Friends of the Public Garden’s Tree and Bench Sponsorship Program, said Susan Abell, a spokeswoman for the organization.

The program allows people to donate $5,000 to $20,000 to the organization, and in return, Friends of the Public Garden installs a plaque at the site of the tree or bench with a message of the sponsor’s choosing.

The tree that fell Thursday was dedicated to a boy on the occasion of his bar mitzvah on Oct. 24, 1998, according to the plaque at the site.

Friends of the Public Garden will replace the tree, Abell said.


“We need to investigate what the replacement will entail,” she said. “It may not be exactly at that location.”

Another tree fell in the Back Bay between Newbury Street and Commonwealth Avenue earlier Thursday morning, taking down two telephone poles and damaging property and vehicles in the area, city officials said.

The tree came down around 6:30 a.m. behind the apartments at 116 Commonwealth Ave. at the corner of Public Alley 435 and Clarendon Street, said Officer Rachel McGuire, a Boston police spokeswoman.

No injuries were reported, but McGuire said a wooden fence and three cars were damaged by the fall.

The tree, which is about 3 feet in diameter, according to city officials, also brought down electrical wires and poles owned by Comcast and Verizon Wireless.


“Comcast is on scene, and they’re trying to rectify the situation,” McGuire said.

The incident occurred in a city-owned alley, so officials from the Department of Parks and Recreation cleared the tree to allow electrical crews access to the downed wires, officials said. The portion of the tree that remained on private property will have to be cleared by the owners.

Therese Byrne said she’s lived for 10 years in the building behind where the tree came down and has never seen damage like this before.

“This tree . . . is almost like a weed,” she said. “It’s huge. It’s as tall as the building. I mean, it’s monstrous. It’s probably been here as long as the building.”

Byrne said the crash woke her up and brought residents throughout the building to their windows.

“I think all of us heard it. We thought it was a garbage truck. We didn’t know what it was,” she said. “It just took telephone wires and poles and everything down with it. It’s astonishing.”

Of the approximately 15 trees uprooted in the city Thursday, the largest was about 100 feet tall and over 40 inches in diameter, said Ryan Woods, a spokesman for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Woods said the city was prepared for Thursday’s windy conditions to take down trees, but crews were working into the evening to clear the fallen foliage.

“We’re expecting that we’ll get more trees down tonight, and possibly more tomorrow because of the wind,” he said. “Any time it’s windy, we’re expecting it.”

Alyssa Meyers can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ameyers_.