Elizabeth Macdonald

About Elizabeth Macdonald (Edit profile)

Elizabeth Macdonald is an Associate Professor of Urban Design in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley and currently chairs the Master of Urban Design Program (emacdon@berkeley.edu).

The Intersection of Trees and Safety

Elizabeth Macdonald

For at least 250 years, the finest of streets the world over have been lined with trees. On the best tree-lined streets the trees are planted all the way to the corners. Indeed, in Paris, a city noted for its street trees, if the regular spacing of trees along the street runs short at an intersection, there is likely to be an extra tree placed at the corner. Yet in America, elm- or oak-shaded residential streets and commercial main streets are all too often only memories of good American urban design. In the automobile age, a real concern with safety has resulted in street tree standards that dictate long setbacks from intersections, ostensibly to achieve unobstructed sight lines for drivers. But are street trees the safety problem they are purported to be?

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Building a Boulevard

Elizabeth Macdonald

Many communities in the United Sates are taking a second look at the freeways built through and around their down- towns during the 1950s and 1960s. They see them now as barriers to neighborhoods and waterfronts. Several cities have removed stretches of urban freeways or have buried them. The city of San Francisco has taken down two elevated freeways and replaced them with surface streets. One of these new streets, Octavia Boulevard, opened in September 2005 as a multiway boulevard.

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Brooklyn’s Boulevards

Elizabeth Macdonald</a

Brooklyn is not known for its great streets. And yet, like Paris, it enjoys a remarkable legacy of several mid-19th century boulevards. At the same time that Baron Haussmann was building boulevards in Paris, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, landscape architects for the Brooklyn Park Commission, designed and supervised construction of two major landscaped thoroughfares in Brooklyn.

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