A Q&A with landscape historian Sonja Dümpelmann

Cover of book by Sonja Dümpelmann, "Seeing Trees: A History of Street Trees in New York City and Berlin"

This fall, landscape historian Sonja Dümpelmann joined the Stuart Weitzman School of Design as standing faculty in the Department of Landscape Architecture. Dümpelmann’s research and writing focuses on 19th and 20th century landscape history, and contemporary landscape architecture in the Western World, with a particular focus on the urban environment in Germany, Italy, and the United States. At Weitzman, she is teaching a core class on 19th and 20th century landscape history and theory. 

In a Q&A, Dümpelmann discusses her new book, “Seeing Trees: A History of Street Trees in New York City and Berlin.” Dümpelmann is now working on an edited volume on the history of sports landscapes. She describes her research approach as as bridging cultural, environmental, and landscape history. 

“One interesting thing is that today, street trees play a big role in discussions about the urban and global climate, which is, at the moment, a very important topic, of course,” she says. “Trees contribute to mitigating air pollution and the urban heat island effect. What I found, however, is that this climatological concern always played an important role in discussions about urban trees. It was the guiding factor when trees were first planted systematically along streets in many cities.”

Read more at the Weitzman School.