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Chicago officials to cut down centuries-old oak tree that predates city

Chicago officials are planning to cut down a dying tree Monday that is older than the city itself.

The bur oak tree’s age is estimated between 250 and 300 years old. The 70-foot-tall tree stands in the Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo.

The Windy City was first permanently settled in the late 18th century and incorporated as a city in 1837.

Katrina Quint, the director of horticulture at Lincoln Park Zoo, said that officials did everything they could to reinvigorate the tree, including adding nutrients and increasing airflow in the soil. Its health had been declining for the past two years, Quint told FOX 32 Chicago.

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Bur oak in Chicago

The age of the Bur oak in Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo is estimated to be between 250 and 300 years old.  (FOX 32 Chicago)

“Our efforts… did not pan out the way we had hoped. And the tree did decline and is now no longer living,” Quint said.

Quint explained that although bur oak trees can live up to 400 years old, the urban setting was inhospitable to the tree.

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Branches of Lincoln Park Zoo oak tree

Chicago officials said they did everything they could to reinvigorate the centuries-old tree, but it died. (FOX 32 Chicago)

“This tree really has reached its full potential here at Lincoln Park Zoo,” she said, adding that bur oaks live the longest in savannas. 

A portion of the stump will remain intact for the Illinois State Archaeological Survey to conduct tests on. A local arboretum will also count the number of rings on the tree to ascertain its exact age.

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Wide shot of bur tree

A portion of Lincoln Park Zoo tree’s stump will remain intact for the Illinois State Archaeological Survey to conduct tests on. (FOX 32 Chicago)

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