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ASU begins process of revitalizing Palm Walk

view of Palm Walk on ASU Tempe campus
July 19, 2016

Arizona State University began replacing the trees on its iconic Palm Walk on Monday.

The most-photographed place on campus is having its 110 Mexican fan palms replaced.

The trees, which have gazed down over millions of students during the last century, are being swapped for new trees in three phases between now and the summer of 2018.

This week, a crew of about 30 workers began removing the first section of the alley of 65-foot palms.

The work began at the south end of Palm Walk. Replacement trees are slated to arrive Friday, according to university officials.

The university is planting date palms in place of the Mexican fan palms. They will provide more shade than the fan palms do, as well as Medjool dates, which will be collected each year during the annual campus harvest.

The history of Palm Walk dates to the time of Arthur John Matthews, the first president of what was then known as the Tempe Normal School. Matthews was very interested in beautifying the campus — it was, after all, a former cow pasture in the dusty desert. The first palms likely started as potted plants. The idea to create an iconic centerpiece for campus didn't originate for about a decade more.

The complete history of Palm Walk is a fascinating tale complete with death, rebirth and mystery.

Officials hope to have the new trees in place during the first week in August; after some irrigation work, Palm Walk is scheduled to reopen around by the time fall-semester classes begin in the middle of the month.

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Sunrise over Palm Walk on Monday morning. Video by Ken Fagan.

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