Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cherry Walk in Spring

Yesterday I went to upper Manhattan to see the cherry trees in Sakura Park and along the Cherry Walk in Riverside Park.  Riding on the 1 train, I got off at the Columbia University station at 116th Street and started walking north.  Passed by the school's Earl Hall with the magnolia and cherry trees in bloom.

At the corner the beautiful bell towers of the Union Theological Seminary and the Riverside Church stand tall and awe-inspiring.

Sakura Park is right across Riverside Church.  The word sakura means cherry blossom and the park got it's name from the more than 2,000 cherry trees delivered to parks in New York City from Japan in 1912.

The cherry trees were to be presented as a gift from the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York as part of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration in 1909.
This 18-day celebration, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s innovative demonstration of the steam-powered boat on the Hudson River and the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s 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 planted in Riverside and Sakura Parks at that time.
There is a gazebo near the back part of the park and it looks beautiful with all the cherry blossom trees surrounding it.

At the northern tip of the park is a stone Japanese tori or lantern which was donated by the City of Tokyo in celebration of the Tokyo-New York sister-city affiliation.

General Ulysses Grant's tomb is in Riverside Park, right across Sakura Park. It's the final resting place of the former president and his wife Julia.  I'll write about the memorial in length in a future blog. :-) For now, here is the memorial with the cherry blossom trees from Sakura Park.

From there I walked further north to 125th Street as the Cherry Walk, which runs from 100th to 125th Streets, has no exits between the northern and southern ends of the walkway.

On my way to 125th Street, I passed by the Amiable Child Monument, a monument to St. Claire Pollock, who in 1797 fell to his death from the edge of the cliffs overlooking the Hudson River.  The monument may be the only single-person private grave on city-owned land in New York City.

The path looks pretty with the blooming forsythia but I had a hard time looking for the way down to the Hudson River Greenway where the cherry trees are.  Starting from way up above at street level, I went down the stairs to cross the tunnel (the arch at the left) then skirted the path a bit to go down to street level which is across the arch to the right.

But then I forgot all that when I saw the first cherry trees along the walk.

The walkway at the right side has a short stone wall with designs of birds.

Walking further I see more cherry trees in white and various shades of pink. A song from grade school comes to mind ..

♫ What a wondrous time in spring
when all the trees are budding
the birds begin to sing
the flowers start their blooming .. ♫

Even the geese came out of the water to enjoy the view.

In some parts you can see the bell tower of the Riverside Church among the cherry blossoms.

And the George Washington bridge at the distance.

Near the end of the Cherry Walk are more cherry trees in bloom.

That was a long walk but the views and the blooms made it all worthwhile.  I even had a laugh near the middle of my walk when I saw this sign.

In case of emergency, you may park on the water :-)

For the rest of my pics on Cherry Walk, here's the album on Flickr: Cherry Walk

Monday, March 19, 2012

Last Weekend of Winter

It was the last weekend of winter but it definitely felt like the middle of spring. These past three days I went to Battery Park City and Central Park and definitely spring is in the air with all the flowering trees and blooms all over.  I can't help but smile each time I see a pretty flower.

Last Friday was a no work day for me and I dropped by Central Park in the morning. The weather forecast called for rain but it was only light rain when I got to the park.  Still, you can see the raindrops on the daffodils blooming near the Pond.

Meanwhile, at the Pond the geese were busy preening.

This was how the Park looked from the Gapstow Bridge.  Definitely looks like spring.

From there I hopped on the subway to go to lower Manhattan.  St. Patrick's day was Saturday and I wanted to visit the Irish Hunger Memorial a day before since it might be too crowded on the day itself.

Coming from Chambers Street, the back part of the memorial was the first thing I saw.  A slice of Ireland in Manhattan!

The Irish Hunger Memorial is dedicated to raising awareness of the Great Irish Hunger that killed up to a million in Ireland in the 1800s. Visitors enter the memorial through a dark granite corridor while voiceovers recount the horrors of the famine.  On the wall are engraved excerpts of reports, poems, letters and even recipes addressing the famine.

The end of this corridor is a stone Irish cottage with no roof, which was common during the famine because the government thought that if your family had a roof on their home then you weren't truly in need of aid.

From the cottage you continue onwards up the monument which is designed to look and feel like the moors of Ireland, complete with stone walls and heather.  There are even stones from each of the counties in Ireland scattered all over the memorial.

More pics of the memorial on Flickr - Irish Hunger Memorial album

The memorial has a great view of One World Trade Center, as well as the Hudson River and New Jersey.

From the memorial, I looked for the nearest subway station so I can go back to Central Park for lunch.  On my way to the station along Greenwich, I had this view, One World Center shrouded in fog.

I also dropped by the Winter Garden near the WTC site.  They have a great view of Ground zero, lots of rest areas, restaurants and clean restrooms.  As always, the sight of the palm trees evoke warm memories.

Going back to the Park, I saw a pair of waterfowls I haven't seen before.    Thank you Central Park for replying to my tweet, now I know they are American coots.

Took one last pic at the Lake before leaving.  Midtown Manhattan seems so far away.

Saturday was St. Patrick's Day and the parade was along Fifth Avenue.  The southern end of Central Park and the surrounding areas were so crowded and teeming with people in green.  I watched a little bit of the parade and decided to walk in the park heading north which I think won't be too crowded.

Some trees already started to bloom while some were still budding, but each one was a joy to see, and everyone who passed by were enjoying them.  Too bad I'm a little height challenged as most of the flowers were way up high.  Still I was able to take some shots, here are some of them.

The park was a sight to see in white and pink.

Even Cleopatra's Needle was surrounded by budding magnolias.

Shakespeare's Garden yielded more early spring blooms, most of which I don't know the names of.  I'll share the pics here and I hope some of you can let me know the names of these pretty flowers.

The rest of my pics of the early spring flowers are on Flickr - Bring on Spring!

On my way out I passed by kids having an entertaining St. Patrick's day.

Sunday was the day I promised my niece that we will go to the zoo.  I will post just one zoo pic and hopefully I can write about the visit to the zoo in the near future.  Before the zoo closed, we went to the area were the seals are.  One of them was adventurous enough to climb the structure and sunbathe there.

From the zoo, we walked towards the Pond and came upon more magnolia trees in bloom.

And people enjoying the day up Cat Rock.

There were even some who thought the last weekend of winter was the first weekend of summer.

Can't blame them, the day was really gorgeous.  

So good-bye winter and hello spring!