The City Beautiful Movement
The City Beautiful Movement was a reform philosophy of North American architecture and urban planning that flourished during the 1890s and 1900s with the intent of introducing beautification and monumental grandeur in cities.
The movement originally associated mainly with a few northern cities such as Chicago and Washington, D.C., and promoted beauty not only for its own sake, but also to create moral and civic virtue among urban populations.
Beginning in 1922, George Edgar Merrick brought the City Beautiful Movement south as he began to craft a community based on the urban reform philosophy. Merrick designed his new city to include tree-lined boulevards and other aesthetics. He wanted to focus on the finest details and hired a top team of architects and designers, which included well-known landscape artist Frank Button.
This year, Coral Gables celebrates 90 years as a “City Beautiful” with verdant tree-lined streets of majestic palms, landscaped lawns and canopied boulevards. Several varieties of palms such as Medjool, Bismarck and Alexander create an elegant oasis throughout the city’s residential and commercial areas. Continuing to enhance Merrick’s “City Beautiful,” 250,000 orchids will soon decorate trees in and around neighborhoods. Last year, the city allocated $30,000 a year for the reintroduction of orchids. It’s no surprise that Coral Gables was acknowledged as a “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation for the 30th year.
For a 90-year-old city, it has never looked more beautiful dressed in its finest greens.
Other cities, such as the almost 20-year-old Village of Pinecrest, have embraced the City Beautiful Movement following Merrick’s vision and love of beauty and grandeur.
Since its founding in 1996, Pinecrest has added several new parks and beautification projects that have included planting thousands of trees. Joining Coral Gables, and for the seventh consecutive year, the Village of Pinecrest was named a “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation.
“As a result of Pinecrest’s commitment to effective urban forest management, you already know that trees are vital to the public infrastructure of cities and towns throughout the country, providing numerous environmental, social and economic benefits,” says Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “In fact, trees are the one piece of community infrastructure that actually increases in value over time.”
More information about the Arbor Day Foundation and its programs is available at arborday.org/TreeCityUSA.