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City plans to remove Broadway’s big ol’ leaning tree

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

A natural landmark on north Broadway is slated to disappear this weekend when city crews take down one of Capitol Hill’s most prominent street-side trees. City officials say the towering Raywood ash at the northeast corner of Broadway and Mercer has become a danger after it began “exhibiting an increasingly unnatural lean.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation Urban Forestry team announced the city would be removing the tree Saturday. The city says crews had been monitoring it for several years. A public notice was also recently taped on the tree trunk.

The crew will work from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day as needed. The majority of the tree removal work is expected to be completed on Saturday, April 5, followed by debris clean-up on Sunday, April 6.

Saving the tree through supports or other means wasn’t an option given its proximity to the street, sidewalk, and private property, SDOT’s forestry manager Darren Morgan told CHS.

“It added so much to the block there … we monitored it for years but finally we just saw too many signs that it was moving more and more,” Morgan said. “With a leaning tree of this size, there’s not much that can be done.”

The tree likely started leaning after a storm or after being struck by a car, Morgan said. At some point the tree stabilized on its own, but began leaning again. Not wanting to wait another growing season, Morgan said the city decided in March that it would come down.

Many, if not all, of Broadway’s Raywood ashes were planted in the mid-1970s, including the one slated for removal. Morgan said crews would likely take advantage of Metro’s overhead wires being shut off Saturday to prune the other large Raywood ash on the block.

Those who sit on the nearby wall waiting for for the Rt. 49 bus will no doubt miss the cover this massive piece of urban landscape provided on sunny and rainy days. Many of Broadway’s trees are of replaceable scale. The old ash is clearly one of a kind.DSCN1364

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36 thoughts on “City plans to remove Broadway’s big ol’ leaning tree

  1. To everything there is a season. Sorry to see it go, but that tree is a disaster that hasn’t happened yet. It would be great if the lumber were repurposed for some munincipal project, but it will probably be mulch.

    • Oh my gosh! That website is insane. I never imagined a city would catalog *all* the trees!?! I just lost 20 minutes of my life clicking around in there. Thanks for sharing!

    • This is the greatest thing SDOT has ever created. I just wasted an hour looking up all the trees in my neighborhood. – I never knew that beautiful tree in front of my apartment window is a Blireiana Purpleleaf Plum. This rules, thank you for this; and thank you SDOT.

  2. I hate to see this tree go, BUT- it does seem like it’s becoming more and more a hazard…if the city were to leave it and something happened, you can bet there would be a huge uproar. Damned if they cut it down, damned if they don’t…

  3. Been walking by that tree since I moved in my apartment north of it for ten years now. I have noticed it’s leaning more and more each year.

    I will have a beer in its honor. It leaves me with fond memories.

    Now all I can think of is that great 90s song “Feed the Tree” by Belly.

  4. Can we also get the Julia’s outdoor seating (which is empty most of the year) pulled back so that it no longer renders the block face inaccessible to wheelchairs – and forcing everyone walking on Broadway to squeeze into a single foot or two of space for the apparent benefit of a for-profit business?

    Anyone even know at SDOT who regulates sidewalk use?

    • I TOTALLY agree here! Julia’s outdoor seating takes up so much of the side walk that there is barely a foot between their metal fence and a tree and if you have a bunch of people coming and going at that same tight spot it creates a bottle-neck where you are nearly waiting in line for people to get through that little area one by one. A complaint needs to be filed with the city. And a complaint needs to go to whoever ever owns Julia’s and to also let them know their food and service both suck.

      • I agree completely with both of your points. I never go to Julia’s for the reasons you mention, even though I live a block away.

        I’m going to contact SDOT to register a complaint about the sidewalk café.

      • Calhoun, why don’t you go in to speak with the owners of Julia’s prior to lodging a complaint with the City? Do something decent, for a change.

      • Simple….the owners could care less about a complaint from a non-customer. It would be a waste of my time.

  5. Are we SURE it’s the tree leaning more and more and not the neighborhood? :) Seriously, sad to see it go but glad that the city is actually being proactive.

  6. So sad to lose a grand, full-sized tree. But, I’ve watched it for all its life and, yes, the angle of the lean is getting worse. I’m 40 years older now as well — shorter, too, as humans often are after 65 years — and I still have to duck when walking by the tree.

    I, too, hope that one of the many artists who work with salvaged tree wood have access and can transform the trunk and branches into art and plates and utensils., Maybe they could be auctioned off to support more new tree plantings.

  7. Any idea if they will replace it with another tree?

    I’m dreaming but it would be wonderful if the city planted 2 trees for every 1 that has to go. I’m sure many birds and lil critters called this tree home.

  8. If I had a nickel for each time I’ve tripped on that tree in the last 20 years, I’ve have at least $.60 right now.

  9. Sorry to see it go but it does need to come down and be replaced, it could be very dangerous in a wind storm or earthquake. Another wonderful tree that needs to be replaced is at the SW corner of E 10th and Harrison. Part of it already collapsed into the street – luckily no one was hurt.

    • I agree with you about that tree at Harrison and 10th. A couple of years ago, I reported it to DPD, and after an inspection they did nothing. But you might try again, as the DPD does take complaints about “vegetation on private property…..overhanging or encroaching on street, alley, or sidewalk.”

      Here is the link to file a report:

  10. There aren’t enough words about how happy I am right now. I respect the tree’s history and how beautiful it once was.

    Now I will no longer wonder which poor unfortunate souls will die walking past it.

  11. Since we are talking about sidewalks- why is it legal for all the douche bags to walk down Broadway smoking? How can all that trash afford rent AND cigarettes? The tree bugged me- I like things orderly. It will be happy to be out of the cigarette smoke.

  12. THANK GOD! That tree is the biggest pain in the A! It should have been chopped down years ago. They will put something nice there, but I am sure whatever goes there will be vandalized in no time.

  13. Odds that within a few months of the leaning tree being removed there is a notice of proposed land use action for another apartment/condo building up for the open parking lot?

    • Oh no, I hope not. Otherwise I don’t know where my friends will wait for me to bring my garage fob to them. D:

  14. Sooooo bummed to see the old gal go. Tragic for sure, but not as tragic as it would be if it fell on someone, or took out a car in the lot next to it. I have actually slammed my head real good on that tree while walking past it. That was a few years ago too, and thinking back, it was my lesson to not walk and text at the same time!

    Hope the city plants another in it’s place. :-)

  15. Lord knows I will miss that tree. Perhaps the neighborhood can have a farewell ceremony in its honor. I will miss doing a little dance each time I passed it.

  16. Pingback: CHS Pics | Goodbye crooked tree of Broadway | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle