Thursday, December 24, 2015

The tragedy of timidity

In his wonderful book "Great Streets", Allan B. Jacobs talks about how the citizens of San Francisco decided in 1967 to make Market St a great street once again and voted to spend the then eye-watering amount of $25 million to achieve it. Very sadly, they didn't get the trees right, so that at the time of writing (early 1990's) Jacobs says:

"After 20 years the trees are still not a major presence. They are not big enough and don't look robust."

Jacobs includes an illustration of the street to show what he means and, after page after page of truly great streets with their big trees, it's a forlorn sight indeed. The real tragedy is the opportunity cost - ie what could have been.

Here in Perth, Western Australia, we're going the same way. Look at this example in Cambridge St, Wembley. There are no constraining overhead wires yet we've used the trifling Flowering Ash (Fraxinus griffithii) as the street tree! (click photo for a better look). We have to do better than this.

Cambridge St, Wembley (click to enlarge)

If you're a Parks and Gardens manager here in Perth, please get a copy of Jacobs' book and see what our streets should look like:

"Great Streets" by Allan B. Jacobs, published by The MIT Press

You can read more about it here.

PS….I bought my copy from The Book Depository. I buy most of my books there. Great prices, delivered to your door, postage included in the price :)

PPS….here's some shots I took of bold street tree planting in New York earlier this year. Big trees + close spacings = great streets.


  1. Flowering ash are such dull trees, too. Glad to have found this blog.

    1. Hi Vicki…yes, not a lot to recommend them as street tree that's for sure. Thanks for stopping by! GP