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  • Janet Miller

From the Archives: The History of Hinsdale’s Trees

Before Hinsdale came to be, most of the original territory was treeless.  The only trees were a belt of oaks across the county line extending northward along the moraine into Walker’s farm (south of the tracks).  The plot south of Flagg Creek was mostly bare except for patches of tall prairie grass.  In the same year he laid out the lots in the northwest quarter of his section (1866), William Robbins hired WG Cleveland, a noted landscape gardener, to mark off the streets and plant trees along their borders. Apparently, thousands of trees were planted.


Luckily, all of the other Hinsdale subdividers followed his example, so that Hinsdale became home to many types of hardwoods.  These trees not only beautified but they served a utilitarian purpose: in parts of the Village where no improvements had been made and no houses built, the trees served to outline the undeveloped streets.  It was generally understood that you didn’t drive to the left or right of the saplings, but between them.


The Woodlands was developed in the early 1920’s. At that time some 200 English elms were planted.  English elms are similar to American elms, but are taller with a more rounded crown. By the mid 1930’s there trees had grown to over 16 inches in diameter.


By 1934, The Doings noted that most of the large trees in Hinsdale were 55 to 75 years old, and needed care or culling to maintain the look of the village.  An inventory noted that there were approximately 20,000 trees in the village. Some 375 trees had been removed and new ones planted to replace them.


One citizen took the time to write to The Doings 1937 noting that the southwest section of town was still mostly treeless.  He called it “16 blocks of no man’s land.”  Apparently in the fullness of time Hinsdale got around to planting this area too.


This view of Garfield looking north from 1st Street shows the residential flavor of that stretch of Garfield in the  early 1920’s era.  The beautiful trees shown, alas, are long gone.
This view of Garfield looking north from 1st Street shows the residential flavor of that stretch of Garfield in the early 1920’s era. The beautiful trees shown, alas, are long gone.

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