The tree of the year is a native to much of the Eastern United States. Cold hardy to Zone 4 and heat hardy to Zone 9, the tree of the year is Liriodendron tulipifera, or commonly known to you and me as the Tulip Tree (named because of the shape of its leaves, which emerge first, and then the showy flowers, which follow and unfortunately can be borne higher into the canopy of the tree).
Tulip tree is fast growing, beautiful shape and foliage, tolerates a wide range of soils, and can get very large so give them plenty of room! (Newer more compact selections are available today, including narrow upright selections). Now, it does have its downsides as well…not tolerant of salt spray / soil, sensitive to drought / poor soil drainage, likes plenty of soil mass to grow in, and can be slightly weak wooded and drop a few branches here and there. So plant the straight species in open areas. The more compact and upright selections don’t seem to be as prone to these issues.