The swaying palm trees of Los Angeles have come to symbolize the city’s glitz and glamour. But nothing lasts forever. The iconic trees are dying off, and there are no plans to replace them.
They are succumbing to insect attacks, a spreading fungus and old age. Because palm trees require lots of water and provide little shade, the city is instead planting less thirsty and more leafy varieties that can help cool the sun-soaked urban landscape.
The craze for planting palm trees gained popularity at the turn of the 20 century. Not native to the area, the vast majority of them were imported from around the world.
The Great Depression brought the biggest push to populate the area with palms. The city hired hundreds of unemployed people to plant 25,000 palm trees in 1931, simultaneously putting people back to work and beautifying the city in preparation for the 1932 Olympics.
By the time L.A. hosts the Olympics again in 2028, the landscape could look much different.