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From my NYC neighborhood
2.067 acres
Photo by Josef Schrabal

Located between Riverside church and International House, Sakura Park owes its name to more than 2000 cherry trees delivered to parks in New York City
Sakura Park
Sakura Park in May, full of flowers - from Riverside Drive - International House in background - a new (1981) Pavilion on right. . - . Photo: Josef Schrabal

from Japan in 1912. The word "sakura" means "cherry blossom" in Japanese. The cherry trees were to be presented as a gift from the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York as a part of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration in 1909.cherry blossom.

The 18-day celebration that commemorated 200 anniversary of Robert Fulton Innovative demonstration of the steam powered boat: on the Hudson River and the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson discovery and exploration of that river took place throughout the State of New York. However, the steamer that carried the original delivery of cherry trees from Japan was lost at sea. A new shipment of trees arrived in New York City in 1912, and they were planned at Riverside and Sakura Parks at that time.

Some of the cherry trees from the second shipment are also located in front of the International House and two cherry trees in the Pulitzer Park in front of the School of Journalism at the Columbia University.

Land for Sakura Park was purchased from John D. Rockefeller by the City of New York as an easterly extension to Riverside Park in 1896. Also known as Claremont Park this land directly cast of Grant's Tomb featured direct rolling terrain with a curvilinear
General Daniel Batterfield
A monument to General Daniel Batterfield
path system and benches facing the Hudson. With a donation from Mr. Rockefeller, the City hired the firm of Olmsted Brothers as landscape architects to redesign the park in 1932.

The two years process included grading the site and laying formal paths to create rectangular plots of grass and shrubs, enclosed by hedges and fencing. A massivebuttressed retaining wall, whose design reproduced that go the wall surrounding Kenilworth Abbey in England, was built on the eastern border of the park along Claremont Avenue. The park was reopened to the public on May 25, 1934.

A monument to General Daniel Batterfield (1867-1941) was created in 1918 in the southeast corner of the Sakura Park. Sculpted by Guyton Borglum, who also designed Mount Rushmore, the bronze Batterfield monument depicts the Civil War hero standing on a rock with his arms crossed and had cocked. Butterfield, a Union soldier who rose to the ranks of major-general and chief of the Army of the Potomac, is best known for composing Taps, the melancholy bugle call performed during military funerals and memorial celebrations.

A stone Japanese tore. or lantern was donated to Sakura Park by the toreCity of Tokyo and officially dedicated on October 10, 1960 with Crown Prince Akihito, now Emperor of Japan, and Princess Michiko in attendance. A common facture in traditional Japanese gardens, this tore was made from the native rock of Japan. its inscription reads: "Presented by the citizens of the Metropolis of Tokyo to the citizens of the City of New York in celebration of Tokyo-New York sister-city affiliation inaugurated on February 29, 1960". In 1987 the Crown Prince and Princess personally rededicated the ten-foot tall lantern in a ceremony hosted by Mayor Edward I. Koch and Parks Commissioner Stern.

In 1981 the architectural firm of Quennell Rothschild Associates were engaged to renovate Secura Park. The capital renovation included installment of a play area for toddlers and planting of linden trees, barberry shrubs and several varieties of Japanese cherry trees. A pavilion which is used as a performance space by the Manhattan School of Music, was also added to the park.

At the 1986 ribbon-cutting ceremony, Japanese Consul Hidco Normoto stated: "In Japan the Sakura is a symbol of renewal and bright promise. The appearance of their fragile blossoms each spring strikes a resonant note in all Japanese New Yorkers can enjoy cherry tree once again in the Sakura Park, an island of calm on the hectic island of Manhattan".

Also see:
The Amiable CHILD MONUMENT here
The General GRANTís TOMB here
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J. Schrabal - Copyright © 1995-2005 OrbisNews *All rights reserved * ISSN 1093-2887