John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
A municipal arborist whittled this damaged tree into a street chair for the neighborhood.
A couple months ago, a strong windstorm blowing through San Francisco damaged a street tree in the Lower Haight. With a large, raw scar running down its side, the stricken tree was soon marked with a "removal" sign from the city's public-works department.
Well, that cut-down recently happened, and the results are easy on the eyes but more importantly, also the butt. Rather than slice through the trunk to make a flat slab, this tree's executioner carved a wee chair into the wood. Now weary travelers prepping for an uphill slog can take a load off at the corner of Oak and Scott streets – with no extra cost to the city for providing sidewalk furniture, and only the slightest chance that sitters will get an earwig up the pants.
I asked Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Department of Public Works, if whittling fanciful chairs out of stumps was official policy. "While this is not typical, the cut was done by one of our artistic-minded employees," she says. "We have very talented arborists who can make beautiful benches and little chairs out of trees. Eventually, the stump will get ground out and a new tree will be planted, but for now, the creative bench can be enjoyed by neighbors."
Gordon adds that this particular stump-chair "wasn’t the first," although she didn't have the locations of others immediately at hand. I found this other likely suspect at Laguna and Fell streets – anybody else spotted these bio-seats around San Francisco?