Boston’s Back Bay is famous for its spectacular Victorian and Edwardian residential architecture and its vibrant shopping & cultural amenities. Yet, its trees are an often-unrecognized element of what makes the Back Bay so wonderful.
While the Boston Parks Department has been a responsive partner in the care and maintenance of the street trees in the neighborhood, and building owners are generally very attentive to front garden trees, there is a growing concern about the increase in the number of requests to remove trees in the alleys of Back Bay. Many alley trees have been illegally removed to allow for parking.
This website contains survey information collected by volunteers from the Garden Club of the Back Bay for the trees of Back Bay’s alleys (and for Back Street) beginning in 2010 and 2016. This information should be considered a first step towards a complete understanding of these amazing (and often embattled) trees. Inventories of front garden and street trees will be added soon.
Trees in the urban environment provide many ecological services: reducing air pollution by trapping particulate matter and absorbing pollutants, accumulating biomass that absorbs carbon and nutrients, diverting large amounts of rain from overtaxed storm drainage systems, providing shade to reduce energy costs, mitigating the effects of the urban heat island, reducing wind and noise, providing wildlife habitat, food, and shelter.
Beyond these scientific benefits, trees have a calming effect on people. Trees show that an area is cared for, they provide an environment for people to gather and build community, they enhance our quality of life and are a source of beauty. They can also increase property values by as much as ten percent.
Today, the Back Bay’s trees are protected. Please see the page on Tree Removal Policy in the Back Bay for more information.