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Green Machine

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Conventional wisdom says stay away from dense folliage, particularly in parks, if you care to avoid assault and robbery. But a trio of recent studies points to the opposite effect with urban greenery. Controlling for poverty and educational attainment (wealthier areas usually have more flora), researchers in Philly and Baltimore demonstrated a "strong inverse relationship" between tree canopy and serious crime. One study's authors extrapolated that there may be a "mentally restorative effect" that suppresses crime, as well as the tried-and-true precept of "eyes on the street". More trees in Chicago couldn't hurt, but it's no panacea. [Bleader, photo: flickr/Seth Anderson]