Friday, February 23, 2007

How Much Are Denver's Trees Worth?

S. R. DeBoer only wrote 2 books, but for fun, he enjoyed writing plant portraits and other gardening miscellany in the "Green Thumb," the journal of the Denver Botanic Gardens. He also wrote widely for his job as a city planner, not just for the City of Denver, but for Boulder, Ft. Collins, Greeley, Grand Junction, Arvada and Colorado Springs, just to name a few of the cities in Colorado.

DeBoer originally aspired to be an architect -- a bridge building engineer who would someday span the canyons of the Alps. He enrolled at the Institute Poutsma. However, fate had other plans. DeBoer became desperately sick (with what turned out to be tuberculosis). The doctor sent him home. That was the end of his pipe dream to become an architect.

His keen eye and architect's sensibility never left him however. He remained acutely aware of Denver's architecture, the good, the bad and the ugly. This is a quote from a letter written by DeBoer to Mayor Quigg Newton upon submittal of a new plan, in 1949, for Denver's growth, paying particular attention to parks:

Denver is building in a very cheap way at this time. The present neighborhoods have lost the attractive building which was done earlier. As a tourist city, Denver cannot afford to retrogress, it must continue its leadership among attractive cities.

As we look forward to the Democratic Convention next summer, Mayor Hickenlooper would be wise to take Mr. DeBoer's counsel to heart. Beauty is not just a luxury for a city. Attracting tourist dollars cannot be accomplished by razing historic structures, clear-cutting mature evergreens, denying our past. DeBoer understood early in the 20th century that beauty can pay the bills.

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