IN A city with big problems like ours, it might be natural to question money or time spent on something like planting trees.

But as the city's Parks & Recreation Department gears up to celebrate the planting of 100,000 trees all around Philadelphia, it's useful to look back in time to the Works Project Administration, a Depression-era project that employed thousands in building parks, roads, bridges and buildings. Much of that work still stands, continuing to enrich the national landscape.

The trees - a quarter of which were planted by volunteers - were financed by Wells Fargo, and gave residents a chance to get free trees for their yards to beautify the city and provide natural advantages of heavy tree cover. A "Tree Party" tomorrow night at Marconi Plaza (take the Broad Street Line to the Oregon Avenue station) kicks off a new year of free trees. Check treephilly.org for more.