Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Seeds of Blight

Rental Houses without trees

There's a fight against blight in the Eastview Neighborhood, just north of East High.

Eastview is a very visually distinct place. If you travel Walnut Grove at all, it really sticks out. Not because it's a bombed out urban wasteland, but because it has no trees. It has never had any trees*. Not many shrubs either.

This "feature" has always set this barren streets apart from neighboring streets, which might be one neighborhood if half hadn't been visually tagged as something so much different. The streets' age (around 50 years old), architecture (Cape Cod cottage in both), layout (quasi-cul-de-sac) and connections (the rental area is joined to the homeowner area by interior streets, not just Walnut Grove) do not set the areas physically apart. In fact, it's possible they were all built as part of the same development.

It's the trees that set them apart.

From outer space the rental homes (see below, lining the left and bottom) today look the same as the day Yuri Gagarin flew over, with that fresh subdivision look; the interior home lots (on the right and top) have changed as their trees and shrubs grew.

But on the ground, the bare homes are decaying; the lush homes are stable.

I'm not blaming the treelessness for the decline. But for half a century the landlords, wittingly or not, have marked these streets as different, perhaps even a problem, along tree-lined Walnut Grove.

In Eastview, landscape has been legacy.

* along Eastview Drive, 3 or 4 houses now have willow trees in their front yard. These are the only trees I saw in front of the rental houses. Willows sticking out along the curving, suburban-style, mostly barren street have added to the visual distinction of the neighborhood. A Leave it to Beaver ghost town.

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