Urban Forests by Jill Jonnes

Urban Forests

A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Cityscape

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.

 

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Urban Forests by Jill Jonnes

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Guide To 2016’s Great Reads

Urban Forests made the list of 2016’s great reads!
Published Dec. 6, 2016

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urban-forests-leaf-yellowNew from author & historian, Jill Jonnes

Urban Forests

A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Cityscape

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 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.

urban-forests-leaf-redJill 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.)
urban-forests-leaf-orange

The Diane Rehm Show logoThe Diane Rehm Show Interview

The Environmental Outlook: Celebrating And Understanding Our Urban Forests

America’s cities are full of trees but despite encountering them all the time we tend to take them for granted or know little about their natural history and civic virtues. But in a new book, “Urban Forests”, author Jill Jonnes says trees play an extraordinarily important role in our cityscapes and they are the dominant component of what is now called green infrastructure. For this month’s Environmental Outlook Diane looks at the history of America’s urban trees and what they mean for the health of our city’s today. Read more…

 

Listen to the Interview

Listen to the October 5th, Urban Forests interview and previous interviews with Jill about her books, Eiffel’s Tower and Conquering Gotham here…

Municipal Equation logo.Municipal Equation Podcast

EP 10: The Science of Trees in Cities

We enter a better kind of urban jungle on this episode all about the science and economics of trees in cities — way more interesting than you might think at first. Yep, there’s a big economic argument for more trees in our cityscapes. Our guests here apply scientifically backed dollars-and-cents appraisals to the trees that line our streets or green our downtowns. And they discuss tools you can access to tally such values where you live. And, yes, we also discuss the much-harder-to-quantify relationship that humans and trees have shared since the dawn of man — and what that means for city neighborhoods lacking in greenery. A lot to think about — and surely a few surprises — in the episode. Listen to Jill and the podcast…

 

The American Gardener, November–December 2016 Issue cover.The American Gardener
November/December 2016 Issue

Urban Forests Book Review by Guy Sternberg

“Along comes Jill Jonnes with Urban Forests, which contains some of the most readable and insightful arboreal prose I have ever come across. Jonnes dives deeply into trees and their roles in American cities through various eras of history. The text is laced with facts, dates, and figures gleaned from recent scientific studies that, rather than making one’s eyes glaze over, inspire a profound respect for these resilient trees and the people who champion them.” Read the full review…

 

“In Urban Forests, Jill Jonnes extols the many contributions that trees make to city life… [and] celebrates [the] men and women who stood up for America’s city trees over the past two centuries… Jonnes offers an authoritative and admirably nontechnical account of the past, present and future of our cities’ trees.” Gerard Helferich

The Wall Street Journal

“We all know that trees can make streets look prettier. But in her new book Urban Forests, Jill Jonnes explains how they make them safer as well… It’s no wonder then, that cities like New York, Denver and Sacramento have already invested heavily in urban planting. Now Jonnes argues that others should follow their lead. It’s time, she writes, ‘to get serious about creating the lushest tree canopies we can nurture.’” Sara Begley

Time Magazine

“This book deserves great interest… Scientific without being tedious and political only in the sense of our responsibility to and respect for nature (or lack thereof), the narrative is sure to fascinate nature lovers and natural scientists alike… A lovingly written book that should appeal to most city dwellers and all tree lovers.” Kirkus Reviews

“Far-ranging and deeply researched, Urban Forests reveals the beauty and significance of the trees around us.” Elizabeth Kolbert

Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction

“The deforestation that ran rampant in the United States through the nineteenth century spurred a band of doughty dendrologists and politicians to forest the cities. Jill Jonnes’ stimulating history chronicles their collective story, from William Hamilton (who reintroduced Ginkgo Biloba to North America millennia after it was glaciated out) to the many scientists struggling to control blights and beetles. Today, Jonnes shows, despite trees’ measurable benefits for human well-being and microclimate regulation, urban forestation remains at risk from short-sighted redevelopment.” Barbara Kiser

Nature

“Jonnes deftly outlines the mission to plant trees and quantify their utility, and the campaigns to eviscerate pests that have ailed them. And there’s a strong, data-backed case for city trees… But beyond quantifying those dollars-and-sense benefits, the book soars when Jonnes teases out the profound emotional connection city dwellers feel towards the nature that surrounds them… Perhaps the most affecting portions of Jonnes’s book delve into trees as symbols of resilience… as much as trees can be transportive, inviting imagination to alight on the branches arcing towards the sky, they can also anchor us. Trees, with their graceful grit, embody some of the very best traits that we can hope to emulate.” Jessica Leigh Hester

The Atlantic CityLab

“A fascinating slice of both urban and natural history that tree lovers and everyone interested in city life will enjoy.” Booklist

“A comprehensive look at the trees of American cities… no one who has loved a single tree will be able to set it aside… the narrative is sure to fascinate nature lovers and natural scientists alike… A lovingly written book that should appeal to most city dwellers and all tree lovers.” Kirkus Reviews

DEC 8 – Talk, Q&A & Book Signing at Arnold Arboretum

Jill will be talking about Urban Forests at The Arnold Arboretum in Boston, MA on Thursday, December 8th, between 7–8:30 p.m. Q&A session and book signing...
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JAN 28 – Talk, Q&A, Book Signing at Politics & Prose

Jill will be talking about Urban Forests at Politics and Prose in Washington, DC on Saturday, January 28th at 6:00 p.m. Q&A session and book signing afterwards. Politics and Prose® Bookstore & Coffeehouse 5015 Connecticut Ave NW Washington, DC 20008 Visit site...
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Urban Forests

A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Cityscape

 

Available Online and at Booksellers Everywhere