By Carol Tannenhauser
Monday, March 27, 2023.
Afternoon rain. High 57 degrees.
Our calendar has lots of local events! Click on the link or the lady in the upper righthand corner to look.
Tuesday, March 28th, 7:00pm. There will be a joint CB 7 Health & Human Services and Housing Committees meeting, at which a representative of Gov. Kathy Hochul will discuss her Master Plan for Aging.
Click to register for the meeting.
In 1912, in a display of friendship on the 100th anniversary of the first commercial steamboat voyage in the world (in 1807, Robert Fulton’s Clermont traveled 150 miles from New York City to Albany in 32 hours at an average speed of five miles per hour), the Japanese government gave New York City 2,500 blossoming cherry trees. An equal number were given to Washington, D.C. Washington planted its cherry trees in one area, “probably a wise marketing decision,” wrote The New York Times. “New York spread its out across Upper Manhattan, in several areas of Central Park, Riverside Park, and an annex to Riverside east of Riverside Drive and Grant’s Tomb that was renamed Sakura Park. Sakura is Japanese for cherry tree.”
The trees that arrived were the second shipment sent by Japan. The “1912 Parks Department Report on Cherry Trees” explains what happened:
The original consignment was forwarded in time to reach New York in time for the celebration, but the trees were lost in transit [the ship sank], and a new lot had to be gathered from the nurseries of Japan. The later consignment comprises many rare varieties having beautiful blossoms. All are very hardy, as proved by their condition upon arrival, after a journey of nearly three months, closely packed in cases which were stored in the steamship’s hold in transit. Not one dead tree was found in the lot. They were planted in Central and Riverside Parks in masses, and all were thriving at the end of the season. The only losses were through vandalism.
The list below shows where the cherry trees were planted and how many at each site.
Cherry trees have a typical lifespan of 60 years, so most of the trees you see today are replacements. In 2012, The Times wrote that “at least two centenarians may be thriving along the reservoir in Central Park. To find them, enter at East 90th Street and walk north looking for the large, gnarly specimens.” Please let us know if they made it to 111!
When will they bloom?
“These flowers are fleeting—and with this year’s warm winter, they’re blooming much earlier than usual,” according to the Central Park Conservancy. “Once a tree starts blooming, it’ll hold its blossoms for about 10 days. But when, exactly, each tree begins to flower depends on a mix of daylight and temperature, which is hard to predict. Most of New York’s cherry trees are in bloom by mid-April, though certain types bud a bit earlier or later.” New York also has different types of cherry trees, which bloom at different times. For a description of each and a schedule, check out this website.
Where to see them:
Central Park: The Reservoir, the Great Lawn, Cherry Hill, Pilgrim Hill, the Sheep Meadow — for exact varieties, more information, and a map, click here.
Riverside Park: “The stretch of Riverside Park between 100th and 125th streets is recognized by NYC Parks as Cherry Walk.
Sakura Park: Located north of 122nd Street, between Riverside Drive and Claremont Avenue, Sakura Park was renovated in 1986. At the ribbon cutting, the Japanese Consul said, “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 trees once again in Sakura Park, an island of calm on the hectic island of Manhattan.”
Not All Flowering Trees Are Cherries:
There are also magnolias, crabapple and other fruit trees that bloom around this time. To identify them, click here.
Now, go forth and enjoy!