50-Foot Tree Part Of Cove Auto Towing & Recovery In Astoria

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When a Queens auto shop owner decided to build his office 32 years ago, a large tree with sentimental value to his family stood in the way.

But instead of cutting it down he found a way around it.

If you’re walking through Astoria searching for Cove Auto Towing & Recovery all you have to do is look for the tree growing out of the office and you’re there.

In 1986, Tommy Cali, 59, decided to build an office on the spot of a small garden and leave the tree intact.

“My wife’s family, they used to own the house here,” Cali told CBS 2’s Mark Morgan. “It was sentimental. She didn’t want it cut down, that’s why it’s still standing.”

It took Cali about eight months to build the office. He did the construction himself with materials he found.

“It wasn’t too hard,” Cali said. “I just got all the scraps together that I found, put them in one spot and one day I just started to build it.”

Many other items he has picked up adorn the office, earning him the nickname “Garbage Man” from his daughter Natalie.

“If he sees anything useful or non-useful he will pick it up,” she said.

The 50-foot tree has become a novelty in the area and gets quite a reaction from people who see it for the first time.

“A friend of mine actually thought it was placed there, that we built it purposely and it’s fake,” neighbor Jana Tellez said. “I was like, ‘No, it’s real.’”

Naturally, a living tree growing through your roof needs maintenance.

“I cut the sheet rock out as it grows wider and on the top we have rubber mounted around it so as it grows the rubber stretches,” Cali said.

Despite the up keep, Cali said he has no intentions of cutting the tree. He’ll just let nature take it’s course.

Cali recently turned down a $2.6 million offer for his home. He is reluctant to sell because he’s concerned the buyer would cut down the tree.

What do you think of the tree office? Let us know below…

  • Guest

    I thought a tree grows in Brooklyn

  • Awesome Andrea

    I think this man is AWESOME !!!!!

  • Sharon

    Like to see pictures of the inside and top of the roof picture.

  • Question

    He must be a really cool dad. If he has this much compassion for a tree I can’t imagine how great of a person he must be.I do have one question though, when it rains the rain has to be coming through the tree so how does he keep is office dry?

    • Ny Kali

      :) Yes he is a really cool dad & so much more so then many will ever know. He started his own business with basically spit & sticks at 24 just to be able to be there for his children whenever we need him; not to mention to be in controll of his earning power. He’s pretty fearless and is one of the most kind and sincere man you’ll ever meet. His motto should be “we’re here to help”. One story that comes to mind is a time where he was the first to the scene of a motor-cycle accident and the driver was split in half, he quickly put the man back together and saved his life ~ and that’s just one of many. As far as the rain ~ he has a freakin bucket lol, I’ve been trying to get him to make a giant flower pot out of the base/desk to save him some work.

  • Ny Kali

    The man in this article is my dad. The tree is a symbol of his spirit and his ability of making something out of nothing and never believing anything is impossible. He also started his business in the same way on the day I was born, which is also a funny and inspiring story. He raised me to believe nothing is impossible and taught me the art of enjoying life and making the most that you can out of the little that you have. Inspired by my dad I wrote a children’s story-book for my children. I’ve been trying to work on getting Kat VonD to illustrate it, as she and her work are of the same spirit.

    You could find my story at:


  • Story IWWMP

    i think the story needs more pictures.

  • Noe

    I think his wife was very lucky when she married him.


    Fred Sanford & Son

  • Jim

    This was first reported by http://www.scoutingny.com and should be credited to that source.

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