For most of the last 100 years, the giant western red cedar's gaping hollow core was the most popular tourist attraction in Vancouver's Stanley Park as entire families posed inside it for pictures.

Then came the windstorm of 2006 that knocked the 700-year-old ‘Hollow Tree' dangerously sideways and sparked a bitter debate over whether it should stand or fall.

The tree has been a lifeless three-storey stump for generations, but has a special place in the hearts of many city residents -- although not all.

"Originally, I didn't support keeping the tree," parks board commissioner Ian Robertson told CTV News. "Sometimes, you have to have the courage to say, ‘You know what? We made a mistake.'"

Today, after months of structural work by engineers and volunteers, the 13-metre-high tree is upright again atop an underground steel beam foundation. Its trunk, 12 metres around, has been strapped together inside by a metal ring.

"You look at it now, it looks like an old dead tree," said Bruce MacDonald of the Hollow Tree Conservation Society. "But there's a lot more packed in there than meets the eye."

After a two-year campaign to raise the $215,000 privately to save the tree, hydraulic jacks were brought in to straighten it and place it on its new foundation.

This week, Lorne Findlay backed his 1926 Auburn into the hollow core to re-enact a famous 1927 photo of a car parked inside the opening that's the size of some living rooms.

"I'm glad it's been put back in place," said Findlay. "It looks great."

As for the future, the tree will have to be oiled to prevent rotting but it should stand the test of time.

"If it's properly taken care of and maintained, it could last for centuries longer," said MacDonald as he looked inside the hollow base that measures about 5 metres wide by 7 metres deep.

With files from CTV's Sarah Galashan in Vancouver