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Philly Tree Plan


This timeline shows the evolution of tree planting and care in Philadelphia. Parks & Recreation has planted and cared for trees on public land in the city for over 100 years. Many partners have helped in these efforts. These include public agencies and private groups. Over the last decade, these groups forged a new partnership. Together, they launched the Philadelphia Urban Forest Strategic Plan in October 2020.


The Fairmount Park Commission (FPC) is established by a Pennsylvania Act of Assembly.

The Act authorized the Commission to:

  • Purchase land to create Fairmount Park in order to preserve the purity of the City's water supply.
  • Provide a place of public enjoyment for the people of Philadelphia.

FPC plants many street trees in the city and near the park.


The Civic Club of Philadelphia advocates for tree planting and sponsors plantings around the city.



The FPC is officially charged with the management of Philadelphia’s street trees. This happened after decades of advocacy by the City Parks Association and others.

Under FPC control, permits are required for street tree planting and removal.


A street tree inventory, carried out by the FPC, found 127,301 street trees throughout the city. 120,000 of these were planted and cared for by private citizens.


Planting of shade trees on city streets begins under FPC. The first plantings were on Spring Garden Street between Broad Street and Fairmount Park and on Broad Street between Walnut and Lombard streets.


The Civic Club organizes memorial tree planting in the city for $10 per tree in playgrounds, squares, and along the Parkway.


The U.S. Public Works Administration plants street trees as part of the New Deal.


From the 1940s to the 1960s, many street and park trees die due to two different fungal diseases.

  • The Dutch Elm Disease attacked American elms.
  • Canker stain attacked London planetrees.

The FPC was incorporated as a part of the Philadelphia City government with the adoption of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter.


From the 1960s to the 1970s, street trees are planted by the Redevelopment Authority and community groups, such as the Center City Civic Association.


Between 1968 and 1974, the Community Free Tree Program–FPC gives free trees away which homeowners pay to plant.


The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) and FPC plan a “10,000 Tree” program in advance of the U.S. Bicentennial.


PHS launches Tree Tenders, a community-based street tree planting program.


Philadelphia voters approve the merger of the FPC with the Department of Recreation. The new department, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR)manages the city’s street trees.


Launch of PPR’s TreePhilly program.


PPR completes a virtual inventory of the city’s street trees using Cyclomedia.

  • 112,000 are trees documented.
  • Standing dead trees are targeted for removal.

The Philadelphia Tree Summit hosts a meeting of 100 people from 50 different organizations. This group:

  • Identified key challenges facing Philadelphia's urban forest.
  • Assessed ways to ensure equity in the planning process and in the final plan.

From 2019 to 2020, PPR conducts a field inventory of the city’s street trees, including species and size.


Kickoff of the Philly Tree Plan.


Release of the Philly Tree Plan.