Sakura Park



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Sakura Park is a small, but historic, piece of the City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation system. Sakura Park is a public park, located at the northern-tip of Morningside Heights, New York City. Sandwiched between Riverside Church on the south, the Manhattan School of Music on the east, Grants Tomb on the west, and International House on its northern side,

Sakura Park was originally called Claremont Park, but renamed in 1912 after the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York donated two-thousand cherry blossom trees to the city. Most of the trees would wind up in Washington D.C.. The land, originally owned by John D. Rockefeller and purchased by the City of New York for use as an extension of Riverside Park, was landscaped with financial support from Rockefeller, over a two year period starting in 1932. Directly to the east is Claremont Avenue, which is dramatically lower in elevation, and resulted in a buttressed retaining wall being built during the period that extends the length of Sakura Park.
In 1960, another gift was given to Sakura Park, this time by the City of Tokyo in the form of a tōrō, when New York became her sister city. Former Crown Prince and current Emperor of Japan, Akihito, was in attendance during the official dedication on October 10 of that year. Crown Prince Akihito would later rededicate the tōrō with his princess in 1987.
Sakura Park boasts a bronze statue of General Daniel Adams Butterfield by Gutzon Borglum, who is said to have been so annoyed by the many changes to the sculpture demanded by the committee that commissioned it that he signed it on the top of the general's head, claiming that this was the only aspect that the committee had not required him to change.
The landscaping is dominated by two walks lined with mature linden trees, the branches meet overhead forming a leafy arcade. Between the two walks is a lawn, headed by a gazebo and planted with cherry trees. When the cherry trees bloom, people of Japanese ancestry come to celebrate Hanami and spread picnic blankets under the trees. The cherry bloom is preceded in spring by bulbs, beginning with snowdrops and continuing through tulips.