PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's the end of an era for the Belmont Maple, one of Philadelphia's most iconic trees. The sugar maple which sits at the top of the Belmont Plateau has fallen ill.
Arborists are expected to begin the removal process sometime before Christmas.
"I was sad. I shed a few tears," said Roger Wing, a sculptor from Powelton Village.
Wing grew up in Ohio surrounded by maple trees and enjoyed bringing his dog out to the tree for a walk.
For tree lovers like Wing, the removal of this tree is a big loss.
Arborists predict it's at least 90 years old. It was said to be part of a grove, which meant it was one of many.
"Right now, this is a lone soldier out here," said Lori Hayes, director of urban forestry at Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.
The lone soul has been a welcomed sight for sledding, track meets, picnics and weddings. Now it has become a hazard.
"It's dying. There are a lot of problems," Hayes added. "The limbs are falling, bark falling off, total compaction at the base."
Hayes says a lot of the decay is due to age, although trees of its kind are expected to live hundreds of years.
She adds climate change is also a factor the tree is so sick, and maples don't survive well with milder winters.
City officials intend to plant three new trees in its place by the end of April. They have selected to go with black gum trees, which they say is better amid climate change.
Officials plan to plant the black gum trees on Arbor Day, April 29. The public is encouraged to come out and celebrate.
Meanwhile, sculptor Roger Wing plans to ensure the beloved maple tree's legacy forever lives on.
"I'm looking forward to having a piece of the wood to make a sculpture, so making the presence of the tree live a little longer," Wing said.
He's been using sugar maple for his sculptures for years.