Home Community Farewell Pike Street Cherry Trees?

Farewell Pike Street Cherry Trees?

city-proposed replacement of the trees with hybrid elms.

By David Yamaguchi The North American Post

It has been many months since most readers have been downtown. Nonetheless, city planning must continue. A new issue that has been brought to the attention of the NAP is whether the City of Seattle should replace or keep the mid-sized flowering cherry trees that grace the sidewalks along the 100-block of Pike Street, near the entrance to Pike Place Market. Presently, the city is planning to replace the approximately 30-year old trees.

The question has been raised by Ruth Danner, President of savethemar- ketentrance.org, a group of “90,000… dedicated to preserving affordability, sustainability, quality of life, and sense of place in the Downtown core at the entrance to Pike Place Market.” Her group’s view is that we should just keep the existing trees:

present-day flowering cherry trees on the 100-block of Pike Street.
city-proposed replacement of the trees with hybrid elms.

“Cherry trees are the National Tree of Japan. These trees pay tribute to our shameful WWII legacy as experienced firsthand right here in Pike Place Market by our own Japanese American neighbors who were interned and disenfranchised of their farms and shops, producing a windfall benefit to those who took advantage of circumstances in service to their own greed at the extreme expense of the disempowered.”

By contrast, the city is currently planning to replace the cherries with hybrid elms, which have a naturally more open and airy appearance when young. When older, the taller elms also have the potential to elegantly “frame the historic Pike Place Market sign.”

city-proposed replacement elm after 30 years.
Comparative present-day elms along 300 block of adjacent Pine Street. All images: “PIKE PINE STREETSCAPE AND BICYCLE IMPROVEMENTS, SEATTLE DESIGN COMMISSION, 60% DESIGN REVIEW, Aug. 19, 2021,” City of Seattle (online).

Related topics of interest include the need for regular pruning of the cherries, a cost that must be borne by property owners.

The project manager to contact at the Seattle Dept. of Transportation to share your thoughts is Therese Casper (therese.casper@seattle.gov). The NAP did so, on Feb. 22, mainly to inquire on any relevant deadlines for public comment. 

Steve Pearce, a co-worker, replied during her vacation absence: “You may send in comments to Therese at any time. Please be aware that we are now at 100% design and have had 4 years of public process on this design.”

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David Yamaguchi is a third-generation Japanese American [Sansei]. He has written for the Post since 2006, at first as a volunteer, later as a paid freelancer. He joined the paper's staff in May 2020, when he began learning how articles flow from Word files through layout to social media.