The Most Unique and Largest ‘Living Sign’ in the World is in Steuben County
Wow, New York State is home to many things that have made the record books, but did you know about the largest living sign in the world? Holy cow, it's right in the Southern Tier, about 3 hours from the Utica/Rome area.
As noted by the Registry of Historic Places in 2004, the World's Largest Living Sign is located in Canisteo, part of Steuben County. It was a historic civic project built by Ed Childs and Harry Smith and donated to the Canisteo School District. The sign has an almost perfect north/south axis and is still used today as a navigational aid by the armed services to orient the true north when flying over it.
Canisteo living sign consists of 260 pine trees that spell out the name "Canisteo." However, we found a discrepancy in the size as Wikipedia reports it's about 90 feet long by 300 feet wide and the Village of Canisteo claims the living sign is 60 feet long by 400 feet wide.
The living sign was originally laid out in 1933, and Scotch Pine seeds were planted in 1934. Unfortunately, it had to be cleared in April of 2016 due to the number of dying trees, and replanting began a month later, in May 2016. Yale University reports the trees to have bark that is very thick and dark on their lower trunks.
The longevity of these trees is surpassed by few; oftentimes, these pines will live for 150 to 300 years, with some of the oldest living Scotch Pines being over 760 years. The Scotch Pine makes up a large portion of coniferous forests in the Northern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, this species has become the target of fatal infestations of Pine Wilt Nematodes and is steadily declining. [Yale University]
The World-Famous Living Sign was once featured in Ripley’s “Believe it or Not!” book.