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Public Spaces

Where are DC's streets the greenest?

Students at MIT recently created a map of greenery along DC streets by analyzing Google Street View images to approximate visible plant life for each street, using dots of varying sizes and opacities.

DC Street Greenery. Map from MIT.

The You Are Here project will create 100 different maps for 100 different cities. Students are hoping to inspire social change and help individuals better understand the surrounding urban environments.

Kayla Gail made her way from Alabama to DC to attend grad school at the University of Maryland and now works as a project analyst for Brailsford and Dunlavey. She believes in saying 'hello' to strangers on the sidewalk and advancing communities through the built environment.  


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Cool map, seems like they intentionally left out parks which makes many of the greenest spots actually look like wasteland.

by BTA on Apr 24, 2014 12:35 pm • linkreport

The parks were left out because there are not that many roads that traverse Rock Creek and the Mall. The methodology is an interesting one for green street proponents. It would be nice to somehow classify this further, somehow overlaying density. Northwest looks very green but they also have much more "open space" in the form of setbacks, yards, etc.

by Doug Davies on Apr 24, 2014 1:26 pm • linkreport

@BTA, probably no data (no streets->no streetview), but yes, seems wrong to have "no data" be the same color (or appear to be, their legend seems to show a faint green as the minimum) as the extreme of "less green".

by John on Apr 24, 2014 1:36 pm • linkreport

I live in Bloomingdale and have found it frustrating that the city prunes the hell out of our trees. I understand some is necessary but they look ridiculous. Yet, when I drive through upper NW, that trees are thick and even touching the power lines. And the trees in these upper NW communities are growing out of the treeboxes (city property) not private property. It's hard to understand why Bdale gets so much "love" from the city. Send crews to destroy AU Park, for a change.

by Treeless on Apr 24, 2014 3:42 pm • linkreport

Any fool knows in NW if you touch a tree, there's hell to pay. Have u been on the Cleveland park listserv? Yikes !

by Ben on Apr 24, 2014 8:46 pm • linkreport

Yeah but it's misleading in terms of how green areas are I think to leave out parkland, at least for people not familiar with the subject. Just my personal opinion.

by BTA on Apr 25, 2014 9:15 am • linkreport

Illuminating graphic, but misleading. At what scale is this detecting street tree cover? Large canopy trees of only a certain circumference, or all street trees irrespective of size?

In Michigan Park, we are enhancing our amazing street tree canopy, planting 125 new trees with Casey Trees over the past four years in two triangle parks and rights-of-way. We are also working with UFA/DDOT to plant new trees in every empty tree box; another 200+ new trees have been planted throughout the neighborhood. The graphic also ignores the significant green/open spaces such as St. Anselm's Abbey School, Barnard Hill Park, Howard Divinity and the Franciscan Monastery, to name a few.

by Tom in Michigan Park on Apr 25, 2014 10:55 am • linkreport

Mississippi Ave. S.E. in Congress Heights has very rare magnolia bogs, mountain laurel, and is the most popular nesting spot in the entire city for migratory songbirds (at least according to this 14-year old news article)

by slowlane on Apr 25, 2014 1:22 pm • linkreport

There are plenty of "tuning fork" trees in NW (where all the branches in the center have been hollowed out around the power lines, which leaves the tree more susceptible to being toppled by high winds). But there is a "pitchfork brigade" of activists who watch PEPCO's contractor like crazy when it comes around.

What I hate are the 40% larger utility "super poles" which require that even more of the tree canopy be removed. And, to make things worse, once they are installed the old poles are left alongside seemingly forever, cluttering the streetscape and obscuring sight lines at corners for drivers and pedestrians alike. Rather than investing in a heavy-up above-ground infrastructure, it would be great if more effort were being put into undergrounding the wires, beyond the paltry, nascent current program.

by Sarah on Apr 25, 2014 2:25 pm • linkreport

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