Welcome to Burlingame: City of Trees

Tree-lined El Camino Real in Burlingame, 1915

El Camino Real, ca. 1980s, from a postcard of the era

In the history of Burlingame, over a century long, trees have had a special role. Often called “City of Trees,” Burlingame has taken special pride in the unique character given to the city by its many trees. In return, many trees have been given special status as protected specimens of living history.

Over the years, these very trees have been at the center of many civic struggles between the forces of progress and preservation. As the city of Burlingame rose from the Peninsula ranchos to an elegant playground and “sunshine suburb,”  as the population swelled and brought with it all of the accoutrements of modern society, the trees bore witness to society’s changes—and at times faced the axe as a result of them.

But the more distant our history seems as a result of rapid change, the more important it becomes for us to remember that history and be stewards of its remaining vestiges. The historic trees of Burlingame, many of which predate the city itself, have for decades served as a catalyst of community activism. Thanks to the efforts of those who have fought to keep the city a haven for trees, the people of Burlingame have the opportunity to experience the original charm that lured transplants here a hundred years ago.

This site has the goal of illustrating the special role of trees in the city of Burlingame and examining the history of Burlingame through the story of its trees.

Explore the Virtual Museum, which features archival images and materials in the collection of the Burlingame Historical Society, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of Burlingame and Hillsborough.