Read Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees in the American Cityscape by Jill Jonnes Online

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A celebration of urban trees and the Americans—presidents, plant explorers, visionaries, citizen activists, scientists, nurserymen, and tree nerds—whose arboreal passions have shaped and ornamented the nation’s cities, from Jefferson’s day to the present  Nature’s largest and longest-lived creations, trees play an extraordinarily important role in our cityscapes, living laA celebration of urban trees and the Americans—presidents, plant explorers, visionaries, citizen activists, scientists, nurserymen, and tree nerds—whose arboreal passions have shaped and ornamented the nation’s cities, from Jefferson’s day to the present  Nature’s largest and longest-lived creations, trees play an extraordinarily important role in our cityscapes, living landmarks that define space, cool the air, soothe our psyches, and connect us to nature and our past. Today, four fifths of Americans live in or near cities, surrounded by millions of trees, urban forests containing hundreds of species. Despite the ubiquity and familiarity of those trees, most of us take them for granted and know little of their specific natural history or civic virtues.   Jill Jonnes’s Urban Forests is a passionate, wide-ranging, and fascinating natural history of the tree in American cities over the course of the past two centuries. Jonnes’s survey ranges from early sponsors for the Urban Tree Movement to the fascinating stories of particular species (including Washington, DC’s famed cherry trees, and the American chestnut and elm, and the diseases that almost destroyed them) to the institution of Arbor Day to the most recent generation of tree evangelists who are identifying the best species to populate our cities’ leafy canopies. The book examines such questions as the character of American urban forests and the effect that tree-rich landscaping might have on commerce, crime, and human well-being. As we wrestle with how to repair the damage we have wrought on nature and how to slow climate change, urban forests offer an obvious, low-tech solution. (In 2006, U.S. Forest Service scientist Greg McPherson and his colleagues calculated that New York City’s 592,000 street trees annually saved $28 million in energy costs through shading and cooling, or $47.63 per tree.)...

Title : Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees in the American Cityscape
Author :
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ISBN : 9780670015665
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 394 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees in the American Cityscape Reviews

  • Ellen
    2019-01-22 19:39

    I found this book (while jumpy and sometimes slow moving) just the inspiration I needed. Reading about the rabble-rousy, seat-of-the-pants rise of Tree People in LA and how Boy Scouts were leveraged to bring back the American Elm made my heart swell and reflect on how I can make a difference in my own stick-to-the-rules no-budget urban forest. (Imma start MillionTreesBoston!)

  • Kate
    2018-12-31 23:51

    Fascinating information but poorly organized - jumped around from topic to topic with no coherent timeline or subject categorization. In many places, would have appreciated additional information about WHY something was happening, rather than a mere reporting it did happen. Four stars for information on urban forestry; two stars for the writing.

  • Ellery
    2019-01-01 02:53

    For tree lovers, this book reads like part thriller: horror and dread as the author details the loss of millions of American trees over the past century, most notably the American chestnut, elm and ash as foreign invaders decimated our tree canopy. But then we have a call to action as the book enables you to see the empty (and as the book details, health-impacting) urban spaces as potential spaces for tree planting. And each citizen must get involved, watering their trees, advocating for trees as public policy and maintaining the trees, as well as being on the lookout for the Asian Long-horned Beetle. As a quote at the end of the book says, "Quick, name a climate solution for cities which helps lower carbon emissions, protects vulnerable people who live there, and even helps students get better grades? Give up? The answer is urban forests, and you're not alone if you didn't come up with the answer. After all, most of us see trees as woven into our city streets as just a pretty, cinematic backdrop for urban life."

  • Robert
    2018-12-31 20:45

    Urban History is a brilliant study of the role of trees in the American city. Jill Jonnes weaves together the narratives of the dedicated people, the diverse species, and the invasive pests that have shaped urban forestry since the Revolutionary era. At times depressing, as it follows the loss of the American Chestnut and rise of Dutch Elm Disease, the work is also uplifting with its look at the scientists and activists who have changed our understanding of the benefits of urban forestry. Jonnes' study of the survivor trees of the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attack is particularly poignant. Ultimately, the reader is left with not only a better understanding of the history of urban forestry but is also inspired to become actively engaged in the continued struggle to maintain and expand our urban forests.

  • Michele
    2018-12-23 20:31

    Urban Forests is a great study of the role of trees in US cities. Jill Jonnes weaves together the narratives of the dedicated people, the diverse species, and the invasive pests that have shaped urban forestry since the Revolutionary era. At times it can be depressing as it goes though the loss of the American Chestnut and rise of Dutch Elm Disease. But it can be uplifting with its look a the scientists and activists who have changed our understanding of the benefits of urban forestry and battled to bring the American Elm and American Chestnut back.

  • Patty
    2019-01-05 23:44

    A nonfiction book that describes itself as "a passionate, wide-ranging, and fascinating natural history of the tree in American cities over the course of the past two centuries". I'm about to take issue with that blurb, but first I want to say that I did enjoy reading it.My main complaint about this book is that it's not particularly focused on urban forests. Out of 21 chapters, one is about the canker than killed off the American Chestnut, four are on Dutch Elm Disease, one on the Emerald Ash Borer (a bug that attacks ash trees), and two on Asian Long-Horned Beetles (which kill several types of trees, but are particularly fond of maples). These are all interesting stories, and Elms and Ash and Maples do sometimes live in cities, but cities are very much not the focus of these sagas of disease and resistance. Another chapter is on the discovery of the Dawn Redwood, a "living fossil" from the Cretaceous, whose only connection to the idea of "urban forests" seems to be that the discoverers were paid by Harvard University, which is in Boston, which is a city. There are also chapters on the (surprisingly contentious!) history of Arbor Day, Thomas Jefferson's tree collection, and the founding of America's various great arboretums (tree museums) including the New York Botanical Garden, the Arnold Arboretum, and the Morton Arboretum. All of which doesn't leave a lot of room for my poor street trees. "Historical Tree Diseases of the US" would have been a much more accurate title, but I suppose someone along the way decided that wouldn't sell as well.I feel a bit churlish complaining so much though, because in the end the book is a fun read. Despite my proposed serious-sounding title, Jonnes is very much writing in the vibe of Mary Roach or Bill Bryson: she tells interesting stories in a familiar, entertaining way, and if they're a bit random and hang together more by virtue of their "cool to know" quality than their deep thematic connection, that's okay. The main point is to have fun. For instance, a chapter on how DC got its cherry trees is quite disconnected from the rest of the book, but is nonetheless a great story. I was most interested in the last few chapters, which finally got into the topic of actual urban forests, because that was what had attracted me in the first place, but they all were surprisingly engaging. I also have to be very grateful to Jonnes for introducing me to the NYC Street Tree Map, which actually allows you to zoom down onto any block in the city, click on a tree, and find out facts about what species it is, how big it is, how many pounds of air pollution it removes each year, and so on. I've had a lot of fun identifying the trees outside of my apartment. I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.

  • Jeff
    2019-01-10 22:26

    Well written and engaging book on urban forestry that revealed a lot of history that I wasn't familiar with. One key take-away, and cause for sadness given the current political situation is the importance of data-driven analysis and research to the preservation of our quality of life. Trees matter, and it's been a long battle to try to integrate our need for cities with our need for nature. Among the weird revelations for me was that George Bush was instrumental in funding this research, raising the departmental budgets tenfold after Reagan had totally defunded those departments. A highly recommended book.

  • Sam
    2019-01-17 02:53

    An interesting topic, and I particularly enjoyed the first half of this book which focused on early urban forestry in the U.S. But this book was poorly organized and given the sometimes dense amount of information that was presented, it eventually became a distraction and difficult to keep track of the places and the people. Unfortunately, I think this did a disservice to the brilliant pioneers of Urban Forestry in the latter half of the 20th century and into 21st century as well.

  • Aleta
    2019-01-10 19:37

    This is a good, readable history of tree activism over time. If you want to understand the great losses we have had of important American trees such as the chestnut and elm, this is an excellent first source. But beyond history, Jonnes shows how the human hope and energy applied in the past can help us move forward with the monumental new problems we face including invasive insects and climate change.

  • Jeramey
    2019-01-12 00:25

    A collection of essays that provide an overview of the urban street tree, and more importantly the pests that assault them.Informative, without a doubt, but it left me wondering about what can and will be done about so many of the pests. Are we screwed from globalization or will our trees and practices evolve?

  • Lynne
    2018-12-28 19:46

    I find this book fascinating; however, it is extremely difficult to read specifically not due to the authorship, but due to the font, the layout of said font, and the paper it is printed on. I would enjoy reading this much easier if the layout/font/paper had been picked for legibility. Having a flush right margin makes any book/magazine article/essay difficult to read...

  • Christine Kenney
    2018-12-29 01:47

    Interesting content, but slow moving and disjointed transitions. Instead of chronological order, this would have been easier to follow if it was organized by topic, i.e. "global plant collections," "invasive pests," "diseases," "involvement of USDA," "cost benefit analysis for urban forestry projects," "trees as memorials," etc.

  • Tony
    2019-01-21 22:53

    If you geek out over urbanism and environmentalism, these collection of essays is for you. it's also a chronology of how our city planners and policy makers discovered the value of the urban tree canopy and green space.

  • Du
    2019-01-18 01:44

    Pretty good overview of the recovery of trees and species of trees in the urban environment. Nothing thrilling or engrossing, but a good overall summary with some well researched details.

  • Patrick
    2019-01-20 19:32

    At its very best, the urban forest is the closest people have come to a modern harmony of civilization and nature. (The goal, cemented in my mind, is the end scene of "A Troll in Central Park" when every scrap of metro is covered in foliage and flowers).The book alternates between appreciating trees as a crucial, yet often overlooked part of the urban landscape, and the customary heartbreaking accounts of ecological disasters that every 21st century nature-lover has to come to terms with (Chestnut blight, EAB, Dutch Elm disease, etc). The sections on quantifying the benefits of trees in an urban landscape are exceptionally intriguing. The book strikes a great balance of optimism and horror. I’d say most natural science non-fics are a gut punch and you know that going in. The Sixth Extinction? That's not sunshine and daisies, Charlie. But in detailing the technologies and more importantly the personalities involved in urban forestry, Jonnes reminds us that passionate people are laboring to keep our forests thriving and that the fight is far from over.

  • Art
    2019-01-05 01:24

    A couple dozen essays here, with the early ones discussing histories and appreciations of urban trees while later chapters explore the science and value of trees in the city. As a Chicago kid, our school made an annual trip to the Morton Arboretum, twenty-five miles west of the city. For many years, I kept the tree guidebook for kids. So, it was great fun to read a fourteen-page chapter here discussing arboretums. John Morton, the son of the Arbor Day founder, founded Morton Salt in Chicago. With his money, he created a living-tree museum. The site, a wide valley of twelve-hundred acres, enjoyed a location far enough from Chicago and its coal smoke to offer free air and protection from the winds of Lake Michigan. Morton chose the location after visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis, where coal ruined most of the trees. I returned a few years ago for a slow stroll through the park, reawakening memories of trips there as a schoolboy. Since then, my sister joined so that she could snowshoe there. DUTCH ELM DISEASE arrived in a shipment of wood from France in the early thirties. Elms back then accounted for maybe seventy percent of the trees in eastern cities. The shade it gave and its shallow root system made the Dutch elm a good and rugged tree for cities. But the disease took many of the trees, including many planted one after another. I grew up on such a street, which looked empty and sad after those great canopies came down. An early lesson about the problems with a monoculture. CHICAGO LOST THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND ELMS in ten years. Dutch elm disease killed many trees, but so did the automobile. Planners sacrificed trees when widening streets and making surface parking lots. But then a new sense of urban forestry emerged during this period. Now city arborists wanted to learn how trees interact with the urban ecosystem. How do we determine the worth of a tree? The status of trees grew because of the new view of them as part of the green infrastructure. Science and data established trees as essential. UNDERSTANDING THE URBAN FOREST begins with the simple act of counting and quantifying the leaves, which leads to calculating the value of trees on air quality, carbon cycling and noise absorption. This detailed baseline began twenty-five years ago. Chicago, at this time for the first time, counted its trees, finding four million of them, giving a canopy cover of eleven percent. Over its lifetime, each tree in the Windy City gave back triple its cost of planting and maintenance, which proved a good return on investment. New York City, meanwhile, found that the average street tree intercepted fourteen hundred gallons of stormwater a year, a natural service worth sixty dollars. Other functions performed by each tree there brought the total value of annual benefits up to two hundred dollars. Transforming the value of a tree into policy, the new urban forestry movement nine years ago developed the data to drive public policy. Mayor Bloomberg, based on these new findings, quadrupled New York’s forestry budget. To help create a functional urban forest, New York City used a database that inventoried every tree. I learned a lot about trees in the city by reading this book. I like living in the city. But I also like nature. And for now I enjoy the best of both worlds, living within a block of three busy bus routes while living at the Milwaukee River, with its thick an natural wooded shore of undisturbed trees. Thirty pages of notes. This book pairs well with The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World, also published in September.But don’t take my word for it. Go calculate the benefits of your own trees. http://www.itreetools.org/ NPR staff pick by Jeannine Herbst, http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2016/#... http://bigstory.ap.org/article/f0903a... The story of the poem "Trees" appears early in the book. Forgotten lines, familiar from schooldays. TREES by Joyce KilmerI think that I shall never seeA poem lovely as a tree.A tree whose hungry mouth is prestAgainst the earth’s sweet flowing breast;A tree that looks at God all day,And lifts her leafy arms to pray;A tree that may in Summer wearA nest of robins in her hair;Upon whose bosom snow has lain;Who intimately lives with rain.Poems are made by fools like me,But only God can make a tree. — published by The New York Times in 1918

  • Mike Murray
    2018-12-25 00:37

    23) Julius Sterling Morton - “I think that no man does anything more visibly useful to posterity than he who plants a tree." 85) Gingko is only tree that has actual swimming sperm.155) Eugene Smiley - UW Madison in Forest Ecology (interesting guy)

  • David Meshoulam
    2019-01-21 22:37

    Great overview of urban forestry in America - a bit thin on the connective tissue that could frame the story, but lovely examples throughout.

  • Phyllis
    2019-01-08 02:45

    If you're interested in wholly different take on the history of cities or if you have an interest in trees, this is a fascinating book that has really made me look and think differently about the environment around me. If you're a city-dweller or even a suburbanite, you simply can't help it once you start thinking about how so many of the trees around you have been selected and planted for a reason.Full disclosure, I'm a Baltimore Tree Keeper tree volunteer with the organization that Jill Jonnes started, and I'll admit that I am a full-on tree nerd. That said, this book includes stories of adventure and exploration, political wrangling, perseverance (who knew the Tidal Basin cherry trees had such a long and winding path? I had always thought the Japanese just gave them to us!), insect and disease devastation, and even heroics. Yes, I found some story lines to be more compelling than others, but overall it's a really interesting book.

  • Donald Radcliffe
    2019-01-07 23:34

    Must-read for every tree nerd. Very detailed history on the big diseases, the introduction of several favorite (and not-so-favorite) non-native street trees, activist movements to promote and plant urban forests, and the recent efforts to quantify the benefits of urban trees.

  • Kristine
    2019-01-20 22:44

    Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees in the American Cityscape by Jill Jonnes is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early October.Urban Forests is a sensory, ultra-botanical experience that frames missives, journaling, and research interviews with immersive narratives - not just philatrophically or biologically or poetically, but from people who work away from the public/civic eye. Careful, beautiful, ode-like prose.