Great ideas from other cities that we’d love to see here

Treetop of the Town

Arbor Day is April 24 and we’re the City of Trees. It’s time to move to higher ground and soak up the view.

Do look down: The Forest Tower offers visitors breathtaking views of the lush tree canopy in Ronnede, Denmark.

Do look down: The Forest Tower offers visitors breathtaking views of the lush tree canopy in Ronnede, Denmark.

Photos by Rasmus Hjortshoj, courtesy of Effekt and Camp Adventure

The Idea

As any self-respecting Sacramentan knows, Sacramento is the City of Trees, but the best place to fully appreciate the reason behind this well-deserved nickname is from on high. The problem: We don’t have a public observation point to look out over the city and its magnificent leafy canopy. There are some tall office buildings and hotels, but no observation deck. And the few rooms with a view that were once open to the public—the bars atop the downtown Hyatt Regency and Holiday Inn, for example—were turned into private event spaces long ago.

Cue Denmark.

Ever the champions of great design, the Danes have created one of the most spectacular observation towers on the planet, and an arbor-themed one at that.

Behold the Forest Tower, a 148-foot-tall observation platform that opened last year at a nature park called Camp Adventure about an hour south of Copenhagen. Designed by the Danish architecture firm Effekt, the hourglass-shaped perch was fashioned to resemble a massive tree—wide at the base, narrow in the middle and wide again at the top where its branches stretch outward.

There are no elevators and no stairs. Instead, the structure features a spiral ramp (making it wheelchair-accessible) and offers forest views at every level through its porous, branch-like exterior, so you can climb a little or a lot.

Here, such a tower—perhaps with a bespoke design to complement our own urban canopy—would not only provide a new way to appreciate our city’s natural beauty (Sacramento has one of the densest urban tree canopies in the world), but would also make for a local, national and even international destination. To wit, citing the Forest Tower, Time magazine included Camp Adventure on its “World’s 100 Greatest Places” list last year. Our version would become one of the region’s top attractions overnight.

The Players

The effect, of course, would be strongest in an area with a whole lot of trees. One promising contender: Discovery Park.

The tree canopy is particularly dense there and visitors would have an amazing view of the confluence of our two rivers as well. Yes, it floods briefly every winter, but no matter: Denmark’s Forest Tower boasts a raised walking platform to the structure and ours could too. The Sacramento Tree Foundation would be a great champion for this project.

The Bottom Line

The Forest Tower is, by all accounts, a runaway hit. It opened on March 31, 2019, and has drawn nearly 400,000 visitors from 75 different countries in its first year, despite being an hour away from a major city. Tickets cost about $20 per person to scale the tower, and while Camp Adventure doesn’t release revenue numbers, the back-of-the-napkin math on that is approximately $8 million in revenue per year. That’s a whole lot of green, perhaps enough to convince some visionary Sacramentans to help the rest of us see our hometown in a whole new way, while planting some serious “roots” of their own. S


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