When you talk to and interview people everyday, it’s hard to remember everyone, but one person I have never forgotten is George Hilton. A few years ago I went by his place to do a story on his somewhat famous tree. You see Hilton is the man responsible for the bicycle tree in Fort Worth.
The bicycle tree was one tree at the corner of Grand Avenue and Central Park Circle that as drawn a lot of attention from people who pass by. Most folks have to stop and take in the unusual sight of a 40-foot tree covered in bicycles, tricycles and a few motorcycles.
The 94-year-old told me it started when he would go to work in his shop and this little bicycle was in his way so he took it and hung it up in the eaves of his shop. “I thought it looked good so I went to hanging ’em in the tree” Hilton said. When I asked how they got up there he said, “I climbed up there with most of ’em. When I first stared I was a pretty good climber then. It’s caught up on me, I’m not too frisky over it now.”
That one tree of bikes has now turned into an orchard of bicycle trees. Over the past few years the old hackberry tree has dropped a bunch of it limbs that held all those bikes and so Hilton has found a place for them in his other trees.
Hilton said code enforcement came by one day back in the 80’s and told him he had to take it down because some one had complained about it being an eyesore. He asked who the complainant was but was told they couldn’t tell him so he said, “I’m not taking them down”. Hilton went to court and won the right to keep the bicycles in the tree. “There’s no ordnance against how many bicycles you can have or where you can park ’em,” he said.
I hope this odd little piece of Fort Worth stays there for a long time after George Hilton is gone because it’s just one of those things that brings a smile to your face when you see it, and I don’t think we have enough of that in the world today.