Monday morning, the Shanghai Daily reported that more than thirty 50-year-old plane trees had been removed overnight from Maoming Lu. Apparently the work was done quickly at 11 pm on Saturday night — presumably so that it would be over with before anybody had time to notice what was happening. The article said that, according to a notice, the trees had been dug up to make room for the subway and would be re-planted elsewhere.
I know, with people’s homes coming down for new construction, you can’t expect much protection for old trees. Still, the plane trees that line Shanghai’s streets lend much to the city’s character. In the summer, the trees are the only reason it’s possible to walk around during the daytime, as they provide desperately needed shade.
And between December and May, when they are mere skeletons, Shanghai’s historical layer comes alive, its old architecture suddenly visible.
For a year and a half now, the trees on Huaihai Lu, a main shopping avenue, have lit up the night.I’ve often wondered how the tough old things survive, what with the small area of exposed soil to collect water, the pollution, and general abuse they receive.
Maddeningly, the Shanghai Daily didn’t say which block of Maoming Lu lost its trees. But, because it was a nice day today, I decided to walk the length of it — a lovely hour outside. Sure enough, just south of Nanjing Lu, here’s what I found.Dirty concrete plugs where trees should have been.
No doubt the neighbors across the street will find it a bit warmer this summer. As for that promise that the trees would be replanted… you can imagine for yourself whether the roots of a 50-year-old tree in this spot could possibly have been saved.