What’s Inside

Trees at Risk tells the story of how cultural values and political priorities shaped Worcester’s urban landscape, how the evolution of the city’s urban forest reflects evolving concerns about our environment and endangered natural resources—here in New England and throughout the U.S.—and why we need to save our urban forests before it’s too late.

The book is illustrated with 16 color pages of beautiful photos of Worcester’s trees by nature photographer Bob Nash. Each chapter includes an essay about a tree species that is common to Worcester.

The decline of our nation’s urban forests; how trees enhance the urban landscape; cost of neglecting urban forests

Chapter 1: Into Wilderness
The indigenous landscape; three attempts to settle Worcester; native Nipmucs’ relationship to nature; King Philip’s War; the biblical imperative of English land claims
Tree sidebar: Red Spruce

Chapter 2: Clearing the Land
Colonial landscape planning and the town common; Elijah Dix, first planter of Worcester’s trees; farmers’ war with trees; deforestation of southern New England; formal colonial gardens
Tree sidebars: Eastern White Pine, Shagbark Hickory

Chapter 3: Industrial Transformation
Politics of agriculture; Lincoln dynasty of gentlemen farmers and politicians; railroads reshape the urban landscape; British Landscape Gardening School and the pastoral ideal; Rural Cemetery Movement and Worcester’s Rural Cemetery; the rise of horticultural societies
Tree sidebars: Fruit Trees, Cucumber Tree

Chapter 4: Greening Worcester
Urban Parks Movement; creation of New York’s Central Park; Andrew Haswell Green’s battles with Frederick Law Olmsted; demand for green space in Worcester in response to urban crowding; political clashes over planting street trees in Worcester; Edward Winslow Lincoln and the creation of Elm Park; Worcester’s first municipal parks plan
Tree sidebars: Sugar Maple, Worcester’s Olmsted Legacy

Chapter 5: End of an Era
Teddy Roosevelt and the rise of the National Conservation Movement; first national parks; the Salisbury dynasty: secret land deals with John Hancock, industrial land use and the creation of WPI, Institute Park and the new West Side; Green Hill Park, a green space for all; Obadiah Hadwen’s arboretum; James Draper, last of Worcester’s gentlemen farmers
Tree Sidebar: American Chestnut

Chapter 6: Under Seige
Land use fights over growth versus zoning; planned communities and Norton Company’s Indian Hill; ethnic politics and public parks; Chestnut blight; rise of recreation in city parks; impact of 1938 hurricane; Depression budget cuts and the WPA’s role in tree and park maintenance
Tree Sidebar: American Elm

Chapter 7: A Legacy Squandered
Budget cuts and benign neglect; the decline of Worcester’s urban forest; the global fight to save forests; wilderness preservation in the U.S.; the struggle to save Worcester’s trees; Dutch Elm disease; the 1953 Worcester tornado; urban renewal and the 1980’s real estate boom; the push for conservation lands; the challenge to preserve Worcester’s urban forest
Tree Sidebar: Canadian Hemlock

The beginning of Worcester’s efforts to renew its urban forest

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