Monday, April 6, 2009

☞ WALK: Sakura Park

Sakura Park in West Harlem is Japanese in name and in history. In 1912, the Claremont Park was renamed Sakura Park after Japanese citizens banded together to donate cherry trees from Japan. A sculptural Toro was also donated to the park from the city of Tokyo in 1960, with Crown Prince Akihito presiding over the ceremony. Sakura is the Japanese word for cherry blossom and during the spring time, the Japanese celebrate by gatherings and picnics (hanami) under blossoming cherry groves. It is usually in early April in Japan, and the trees blossom later in New York City.

So for those in Harlem that want to enjoy the convenience of having the only Sakura park in Manhattan, we will have a Sakura posting every other day so you can keep track of the blooms. No need to travel all the way to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to enjoy the show. Much more humble and under-utilized by the community at large, the park has about a half dozen cherry trees, but there is charming gazebo, as well as beautiful views of Riverside Church and Grant's Tomb. The lower photo is from yesterday, April 5th, and one can see the blossoms are well formed at this point. The top photo is from the weblicist website, which has many photos from last year's Sakura bloom. Travel to 122nd Street and Riverside Drive. Take the 1 train to 125th street or 116th street for the more scenic route, and head two avenues west to Riverside Drive.

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