Here's a little history courtesy of Off the Grid (via The New York Times):
In 1965, after a difficult month on a steamship, a spiritual leader named Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada arrived in New York convinced that if Americans would embrace his conception of Krishna consciousness, the other countries in the world would follow. In 1966 he founded the International Society of Krishna Consciousness at 26 Second Avenue, near 2nd Street.
On October 9, 1966, Swami Prabhupada led a group of followers to the nearby Tompkins Square Park. Under the leafy canopy of an American elm tree they began to chant a distinctive 16-word mantra: ”Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” It was Swami Prabhupada’s first outdoor chanting ceremony outside of India and it was the birth of the Hare Krishna religion.
Read more of the tree's history here.
EVG correspondent Steven took the above photo this morning of Vani, who was here to mark the anniversary.