In New Orleans and many other cities of the world trees are allowed to exist with humans, even if the humans have to adapt to the trees. A one hundred year old oak tree may have a three foot diameter trunk and roots that take up several feet of sidewalk and even some of the street. These trees provide shade and also a home and food supply for many birds.
So what do people do? Well, they look down so as not to trip on the roots and they walk around the tree. You may even have to give up parking next to one of these trees in order to stay out of traffic.
Hear in South Florida, we have a cure. Just cut the tree down and replace it with a palm. Need I say more? But there are ways to avoid future problems with oak and other large trees and they include putting in proper retaining areas from the start. The point is to install a cement or metal edge that the roots won’t lift up in the future and crack. So is that really so hard to do? It doesn’t look so here in this picture from New Orleans. The worst case scenario is that a piece of land may need to be purchased from the landowner on the other side of the sidewalk so that the sidewalk can be widened. But that is a hundred years from now for this tree.