What is the large tree with lavender flowers seen from the tram route?
The tree you are refering to is Paulownia tomentosa or princess tree. It is a fast growing native of China that reaches heights of 40 feet or so. Most impressive is the showy display of flower clusters more than a foot in length covering the tree in late spring. The flowers are tubular, lavender-pink in color with purple interior spots and cream colored stripes, and have a vanilla-like scent.
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service