OK, I'll admit it, I'm a tree-hugger. I grew up in a city of trees (Minneapolis) and although I've lived in the desert for a long time, I still feel better around trees. I like looking at them, I like parking my car under them, I like walking under them.
If you're confused about trees in Phoenix, it's not surprising. When I first moved here, when I was 19, there were very few trees. I just figured that it was because it was the desert. Then I found out that Phoenix used to be a city of trees.
|Looking north up Central from Monroe in the 1920s at a city of trees, Phoenix, Arizona.|
Whether it was along the road to good intentions, the trees which had shaded Phoenix since the 1870s started to disappear in the 1970s. I've looked for a lot of reasons, the widespread use of air conditioning, the need for more parking spots, the expense of trees, and the fact that trees require water. There are a LOT of reasons why the trees went away.
So I have despaired, and written stuff like this, where I feel that I am a voice in the wilderness. Bring back the trees! And to my surprise, I see it happening. Trees are being planted in downtown Phoenix, new buildings are including trees in their design. I've even seen beautiful desert-adapted trees in the medians on Grand Avenue (Texas Mountain Laurel - sophora secundiflora). And then there are acacias (sarcastically called "parking lot trees"), mesquite, palo verde and palo brea.
And that's great, but it's just a start. Because no matter how many trees are planted by the city, most of our city is made up of homes. And as I drive around Phoenix, I see millions of places where trees could be planted - front yards, and backyards.
So if you want Phoenix to be a city of trees again, plant a tree, and care for it.
Image above: the Evans House, which is on Washington at 11th Avenue. And yes, there are trees nearby.
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