By Dominique Davison

Yesterday I walked across the Crossroads, from our office at Central to my favorite shop, Christopher Elbow Chocolates. The walk is a brisk ten minutes each way, and because it was a beautiful, sunny, and warm day, I stayed on the shadier sides of the streets to avoid overheating. On my trip, I lamented that many stretches along the way offered little to no shade. When I arrived at 19th Street, I was greeted with a pedestrian-friendly oasis, receiving ample shade from street trees that instantly transformed the stark surroundings of surface parking lots and decaying sidewalks. 

This respite was no accident. DRAW, KCMO Public Works Department, and the Heartland Tree Alliance planted these 21 oaks and maples on McGee eight years ago. These now have matured into 6-8” caliper street trees with healthy canopies benefitting the surrounding area. After researching the options, we implemented the KC Street Tree Guide and chose large varieties to provide optimal shade and visual impact. Here in Kansas City, MO, we are losing urban canopy faster than we are replacing it. It’s important to understand that shade from the summer sun is just one of the positive impacts. Beautification, carbon sequestration, energy savings, and improved property values are additional benefits of street trees.  

Nothing gets done without the help of others, and planting these trees was no exception. Heartland Tree Alliance worked to build partnerships with the surrounding businesses to adopt the trees and ensure watering and care. The result is the healthy urban canopy we see today – so thank you to all those who helped plant trees along McGee: you helped restore our quickly vanishing urban canopy. 

Now, what blocks can we plant next? 

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