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Old 04-05-2013, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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I'm sure people have noticed in their own metros there has been an increasing focus on putting street trees in, particularly in neighborhoods which have little to no front yard, to try and make the area look less desolate.

I find in areas where they have grown out, it really obscures the buildings. Many of the rowhouse neighborhoods I like to go on scenic walks in, for example, have trees so grown out that except during the winter houses you cannot see the homes clearly at all. In extreme cases, the roads can become so leafy the street itself becomes dark.

Are street trees everywhere really needed? It's not as if street trees were part of the original typology here, and to some extent it feels like putting a suburban characteristic into an urban area, particularly once the tree gets big enough that it rivals the size of the house. City houses were often meant to be on public display to the street - that's why they aren't recessed far back on properties.

Thoughts?
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:37 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 17 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,990 posts, read 102,554,590 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I'm sure people have noticed in their own metros there has been an increasing focus on putting street trees in, particularly in neighborhoods which have little to no front yard, to try and make the area look less desolate.

I find in areas where they have grown out, it really obscures the buildings. Many of the rowhouse neighborhoods I like to go on scenic walks in, for example, have trees so grown out that except during the winter houses you cannot see the homes clearly at all. In extreme cases, the roads can become so leafy the street itself becomes dark.

Are street trees everywhere really needed? It's not as if street trees were part of the original typology here, and to some extent it feels like putting a suburban characteristic into an urban area, particularly once the tree gets big enough that it rivals the size of the house. City houses were often meant to be on public display to the street - that's why they aren't recessed far back on properties.

Thoughts?
Didn't we have this conversation once before? I could have sworn we did, or maybe it was a sub-conversation of another thread.

Yes, street trees are needed. Trees use up carbon dioxide and provide cooling (when in leaf).

I disagree that city houses are meant for public display. You're certainly not supposed to be looking inside other people's houses! We have a now-large Colorado Blue Spruce in our front yard in front of a first floor bedroom window. It gives a lot of privacy. When I was recovering from surgery, I used that room exclusively, and it was nice not to have to keep the shade down 24/7. I could have light but privacy. And my house is back from the road about 2 car lengths.

A better question might be, "Why are (some) urbanists so opposed to any nature in their environment?" I mean, we've seen threads/posts against trees, grass, parks, you name it on this forum.
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:37 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post

I find in areas where they have grown out, it really obscures the buildings. Many of the rowhouse neighborhoods I like to go on scenic walks in, for example, have trees so grown out that except during the winter houses you cannot see the homes clearly at all. In extreme cases, the roads can become so leafy the street itself becomes dark.
The neighborhood trees could use a some pruning there, but they're still a positive IMO.

Quote:
Are street trees everywhere really needed? It's not as if street trees were part of the original typology here, and to some extent it feels like putting a suburban characteristic into an urban area, particularly once the tree gets big enough that it rivals the size of the house. City houses were often meant to be on public display to the street - that's why they aren't recessed far back on properties.
I don't think having some greenery is a suburban characteristic, the trees aren't even taking up space. I don't necessarily object to a lack of trees on some streets but it takes the edge of the "concrete jungle vibe" that dense cities give. They add a bit more variety and make it feel like more of a residential neighborhood. These trees are a big positive*:

226 Saint James Place, Brooklyn, NY - Google Maps

It's also New York City. It gots hot in the summer with a big urban heat island effect. With all the pavement and no shade, the porch would roast in the summer. Without A/C the house interiors would be much less pleasant. Not all rowhouses are as interesting looking as that block, so trees aren't hiding that much (the blander sections of Philly could use 'em). Trees can absorb noise as well. Here's a block without trees:

226 Saint James Place, Brooklyn, NY - Google Maps

less inviting to me. And while nieghborhoods like these are far denser than modern-day suburbia, for some, there's a draw of "feels more relaxed than Manhattan". After a long day at work, you might want something a little bit different. On the other hand a downtown-like environment might be better off without trees:

Greene Street, New York, NY - Google Maps

the buildings are taller than the trees and the architecture — and street is rather unique. Trees would clash with the style. It's not a residential street, either. Going across to Europe, here's a street with similar height buildings but trees anyway:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Madri...,,0,-3.01&z=17

I like the "forest canopy" + dense city combination, meshes well IMO. Downtown Portland is well-treed. Here's Park Avenue:



With the wide street, the trees go better than the Manhattan view.

*The first street I posted is where Notorious B.I.G. grew up. According to his lyrics, he grew up in a one-room shack.

Last edited by nei; 04-05-2013 at 12:49 PM..
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:48 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
]I disagree that city houses are meant for public display. You're certainly not supposed to be looking inside other people's houses!
Not inside, just be able to see the house. I remember somewhere houses on street corners were considered more valuable in the 19th century because they were more public.

Quote:
We have a now-large Colorado Blue Spruce in our front yard in front of a first floor bedroom window. It gives a lot of privacy. When I was recovering from surgery, I used that room exclusively, and it was nice not to have to keep the shade down 24/7. I could have light but privacy. And my house is back from the road about 2 car lengths.
Have to? Why keep them down in the first place? While the tree sounds nice, I don't get the privacy benefit. It's not like people normally stop and stare inside a house. If I was doing something required it, I could close the blinds, but otherwise, why does it matter? It's not like it matters if someone sees me reading or say, on CD. I know a lot of people that do keep the blinds closed for privacy and never understood it (what's the big deal? Don't you want light? What are you afraid of?)

When my bedroom faced the street (about one car length, maybe a bit less), I usually left the blinds open. I liked seeing people go by and didn't mind them seeing. Sometimes I did close them, usually not.
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:52 PM
 
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I love trees.

However, if a city plants them they should be aware of what those trees might do to power lines in a storm once those trees mature.
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:53 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 17 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,990 posts, read 102,554,590 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Not inside, just be able to see the house. I remember somewhere houses on street corners were considered more valuable in the 19th century because they were more public.



Have to? Why keep them down in the first place? While the tree sounds nice, I don't get the privacy benefit. It's not like people normally stop and stare inside a house. If I was doing something required it, I could close the blinds, but otherwise, why does it matter? It's not like it matters if someone sees me reading or say, on CD. I know a lot of people that do keep the blinds closed for privacy and never understood it (what's the big deal? Don't you want light? What are you afraid of?)

When my bedroom faced the street (about one car length, maybe a bit less), I usually left the blinds open. I liked seeing people go by and didn't mind them seeing. Sometimes I did close them, usually not.
But the OP wants to be able to look at these houses! If you're standing anywhere near a window, in your nightgown (I'm a "she" remember), you don't really want other people looking at you. Did you miss the part about 'recovering from surgery'? Kids do walk down the street on their way to/from school, and people in my 'hood are always out walking their dogs.

Yes, I realize corner lots were desirable. In general, they're still considered desirable b/c you get a bit more yard that way.

ETA: DH (the first one) and I once lived in an apt. complex on the first floor. One day I ran into a woman who said, "Are you the lady who's always sewing?". I guess she looked in the window and saw me at the sewing machine. Kind of wierd, if you ask me.

Last edited by Katarina Witt; 04-05-2013 at 01:24 PM..
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Old 04-05-2013, 01:05 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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More trees, please.

Much uglier without them:
https://maps.google.com/?ll=40.45718...2,,0,4.57&z=19

It's interesting how much trees are correlated to both education and income.
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...44770516,d.cGE
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Old 04-05-2013, 01:19 PM
 
6,635 posts, read 4,594,798 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
More trees, please.
I agree. Trees add a softness and vibe to a street that cannot be accomplished with concrete alone.
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Old 04-05-2013, 02:40 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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I'm generally of the 'more trees' school, but that street might be too narrow for that number.
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Old 04-05-2013, 05:16 PM
 
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Street trees serve multiple purposes in urban environments:

1. They provide a layer of projection against street traffic for pedestrians.
2. They soften the hard edges of the city.
3. They dampen sound.
4. The provide shade and even shelter in light rain.
5. They help to create a "sense of place" by defining space and reducing scale of a wide street.
6. The help mitigate heat island effect.
7. The provide habitats for other animals to enjoy
8. The are excellent carbon sinks

Street trees have been around about as long as there have been cities for very good reasons.

The OP's link was to a lovely shaded treelined street that would be welcome around here in mid-July. A perfect example of why they are desirable.
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