If you’re a jogger or bicyclist who runs/bikes along Riverside Park, chances are you’ve seen the cherry blossoms for which the Cherry Walk is named. The four-mile path along the Hudson River stretches from 72nd Street to 158th Street, and the trees, which are a part of Riverside Park, bloom between 100th and 125th Streets.
The history of the trees is fascinating. In 1909 the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York presented 2,000 cherry trees to New York City as a gift from Japan to commemorate the 18-day celebration of the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery and exploration of the river that bears his name as well as the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s steam-powered boat demonstration. The original planting consisted of 700 trees, and the surviving trees of that batch are in other parts of Riverside Park, in Sakura Park and in Central Park.
The committee also sent trees to Washington, DC, which flourish today in that city’s National Cherry Blossom Festival and Sakura Matsuri, the country’s largest one-day display of Japanese culture.
Riverside Park is one of ten officially designated scenic landmarks in New York City – along with Prospect Park, Ocean Parkway, Grand Army Plaza, Eastern Parkway, Verdi Square, Central Park, Bryant Park, Fort Tryon Park, and Morningside Park – and we here at JapanCulture•NYC like to think the cherry blossoms are part of the reason.
Happy o-hanami, everyone!