Tree-lined Streets: They’re Not Just For Show


There are lots of people out there who think density is the be-all and end-all of environmentally conscious urban planning. But that’s simply not the case; there are plenty of arguments against it, plenty of examples that undermine it, and today, another study that refutes it.

Columbia University recently found that children on tree-lined streets—which generally suffer in the highest density communities due to lack of sunlight, root pressure and a variety of other problems—suffered drastically lower asthma rates than children raised on streets without trees.

The good news is that most of Back Bay and large portions of Beacon Hill are built around trees, and those trees aren’t going anywhere; residents are militant in their arboreal support. Just try locking your bike to a neighborhood sapling if you don’t believe me.

Here are some home offerings in particularly well-planted areas:

167 Commonwealth Ave #1 – $895,000
1 bed, 1.5 baths, 1,243 sq. ft.
The Comm Ave mall, an impressive green strip running between the eastbound and westbound sides of the finest real estate in the city, was seen as such an eyesore by concrete-lovers that some nuts once planned to build a series of towers there. So you know those have to be some nice trees. The fact that you can snag a million-dollar looking home there for less than 900k doesn’t hurt the location, either.

447 Marlborough St. #4 – $410,000

1 bed, 1 bath, 429 sq. ft.
For some people, tree-lined just isn’t enough. They need quiet, too, and it doesn’t get much quieter than the western end of Marlborough Street. Though it lies between two major thoroughfares (Charlesgate Overpass and Mass Ave), most eastbound traffic uses Storrow or Boylston, and most westbound traffic takes Beacon. Now, I don’t think that makes a plaincake studio worth a grand per square foot, but maybe for you it does.

author’s note: the following listing is *actually* in Charlestown, but I think it’s a pretty fantastic deal, so I’m going to leave it up.

30 Chestnut St #3 – $475,000
2 beds, 1 bath, 855 sq. ft.
Hard to knock a two bed for less than 500k on the south slope, but one look at the roof deck…wow. Forget about the frickin’ trees. For those of you who are thinking there must be a catch, an open house this coming Sunday will give you the chance to scope the place out for yourself.

Image: Boston Public Garden Panorama. Rick Harris from Canada. April 30, 2006. Free use under cc-by-sa-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

  • Ellie at Redfin

    There’s definitely a diminishing return to density- tenements aren’t the way most people want to live. Boston and my home town, Baltimore, have some great streets with relatively high density and trees. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive- and trees aren’t just good for kids’ asthma, they do a lot for the mental health of adults too.

  • Reality

    I see, tax dollar and education money at work again. What’s the next study? Kids live on streets lined with Ferraris have lower asthema rate than kids on live on streets lined with Fords? Trees produce pollens and Ferraris produce hydrocarbon-rich exhaust, both cause asthema . . . however, neither can compare to long term exposure to household mold, which the wealthier parents are more capable of getting rid of (say, buying and running a duhumidifier or not living in a poorly insulated basement apartment to begin with) than the poor parents can.