portrait of a young John Torrey with the words "you are made for the highest walks of science"

John Torrey:
Early Influences

John Torrey was born in New York City in 1796, the second of nine children of William Torrey and Margaret Nichols Torrey. Together with his brother William, young John explored the wooded hills and pastures surrounding then-remote Greenwich (today’s Greenwich Village), where the family moved in 1811. John admired two older boys, brothers Lewis (1782-1838) and John LeConte (1784-1860). The brothers were amateur naturalists of varied interests, who would go on to lead distinguished scientific careers of their own, and introduced the young Torrey to botany. These experiences fueled John Torrey’s lifelong love for nature.