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Before “Dutch Elm”

North Broad Street

Moving north along Broad Street from the businesses that stop abruptly at Fennimore Avenue, you enter a four-block strip of large houses and generous setbacks. The Broad Street right-of-way is a one-hundred-and-twenty foot strip running north across the entire town. It was so wide, indeed, that circa 1909 the neighbors on two blocks (from Fennimore to Cooper) petitioned to create a landscaped strip down its center. There were those at the time who also believed it was just the wealthy residents who artfully avoided construction of a trolley line in their front yards.

While searching for images that might help the Landscape Architecture students working with that site, I came upon this postcard view in Virginia, Illinois (who knew there was a Virginia, IL?) that is a pretty good stand-in for what I had imagined. Dutch Elm disease has undoubtedly taken its toll, but there’s been sufficient time for the second-growth boulevard trees to have attained some maturity.

Did you notice some sort of construction going on at the far right of this image? Looks like a paving job to me—perhaps the paving blocks of its new “City Beautiful” treatment.

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