Moscow’s lost trees

I love Moscow, but its downtown is barren of trees. Even when you get a prerevolutionary or constructivist break from the Stalinist promenade down Tverskaya, it’s just a little lifeless. But check out Ilya Varlamov‘s collection of photos of what Moscow looked like before its streets lost their trees. So much better.

Why, you might ask, did the trees all go? Well, zyalt says that the official answer is that they couldn’t take the pollution – but this is nonsense after the financial crises of the 90s.

At the end of the day, the answer is autocentrism. Trees interfered with parking, they posed security risks, and they took up potential lanes. Under the 1990s program of incoherent highway expansion, the last remnants of downtown greenery were torn up. If, on the other hand, Moscow had pursued a sustainable transportation policy before Sobyanin, the trees would have survived to serve the 80% of Muscovites who take public transport.

Maybe now is different. Check out the whole set, it’s remarkable what a difference there is.

Forest Hills’ Brown House

Upper Northwest has a reputation for having bland architecture, with the exception of pre-Depression Chevy Chase. But that’s proving itself to be a not completely true perception.  Down at the eastern end of Audubon Terrace in Forest Hills there’s a real treasure of modern architecture, almost completely buried the trees of  Soapstone Valley.  Although it’s been a house I’ve admired since a stopping a run in the valley back in high school, Modern Capital clued me in to the house’s authorship by the definitive SoCal architect, Richard Neutra.


The residence, known as the Brown House, was built in 1968, only two years before the architect’s death. It is the only example of that architect’s work in DC, and one of only a few on the East Coast. More photos under the fold.