The Street Trees of Iconic DC Spots
Street trees, those in the right of way between the sidewalk and the street are managed and maintained by our friends and partners at The Urban Forestry Division (UFD) of DDOT. While we track every tree we plant in our database, we don’t keep a running list of street trees. Thankfully, UFD does and their street tree map is one of our faves. It will help take your localized tree knowledge and care up a notch. To show you its magic, we wanted to check out the street trees surrounding some iconic DC spots.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
An institution in the District, Ben’s Chili Bowl is a landmark restaurant in the U Street Corridor. It is known locally for its chili dogs, half-smokes, and milkshakes, and has been an integral part of the neighborhood’s history since its founding in 1958. It was frequented by both police and protesters during the 1968 riots, and is regularly visited by celebrities and politicians both local and national.
Thanks to UFD’s street tree map we can see that Ben’s is nestled in between London planetrees, urban workhorses. These trees are great for this high traffic area with compacted soil, lots of pedestrians, and visual interest – their bark peels over time! Known for its canopies over the boulevards of Europe, the London planetree is a tough and majestic shade tree with attractive, mottled grayish-white bark that peels in the fall, and playful, round seed heads that dangle from branches providing seasonal interest in the fall and winter. This tree is available through our residential planting program, RiverSmart Homes. You can also get up to $50 back for planting this tree yourself through our tree rebate program.
Built between 1963 and 1971, the Watergate was considered one of Washington’s most desirable living spaces, popular with members of Congress and political appointees of the executive branch. It’s probably best known for the Watergate scandal, a major political scandal involving the administration of President Richard Nixon that led to Nixon’s resignation. The scandal stemmed from the Nixon administration’s continual attempts to cover up its involvement in a 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Office Building.
There’s no covering up the gorgeous Ginkgoes that dot Virginia Ave NW, though! Thanks to UFD’s street tree map we can note the size and sex of various ginkgo trees along the street outside the complex. A throwback to prehistoric times, the gingko is a beautiful shade tree with unique fan-shaped leaves that turn a beautiful yellow in fall, and distinctly furrowed corky bark that is gray-white in color. This tough urban tree is able to withstand varied conditions and stresses. Thankfully the majority of ginkgoes planted are male varieties, so pedestrians can avoid the unpleasant smells associated with rotting ginkgo fruits. You can get up to $50 back for planting this tree yourself on private property through our tree rebate program.
Crystal Room nightclub (now Riverside Healthy Living Center)
The historic site of Marvin Gaye’s professional singing debut in the old Crystal Room nightclub, it’s now Riverside Center is now a gathering space for the community along Marvin Gaye Park. Formerly called Watts Branch Park, the area was officially rededicated as Marvin Gaye Park on April 2, 2006, on what would have been the singer’s 67th birthday.
There are plenty of native trees that we helped plant along Watts Branch and Marvin Gaye Park, but thanks to UFD’s street tree map we can see the Riverside Center features quite the robust row of red maples. One of the most popular planted trees, red maples are coveted for their brilliant fall color, ability to withstand challenging soil conditions and their seeds which fall “helicopter-like” to the ground. This tree is available through our residential planting program, RiverSmart Homes. You can also get up to $100 back for planting this tree yourself through our tree rebate program.