Looking downtown, the gazebo in the foregrouind and the tower of Riverside Church behind it
|Location||Manhattan, New York City|
|Area||2.067 acres (0.836 ha)|
|Operated by||City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation|
|Status||Open all year|
Sakura Park is a public park, located toward the northern end of the Morningside Heights neighborhood in Manhattan, New York City, between Riverside Drive and Claremont Avenue, north of West 122nd Street. Sandwiched between Riverside Church on the south, the Manhattan School of Music on the east, Grant's Tomb on the west, and International House on its northern side, it is a small, but historic, piece of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation's park system.
The park was originally called Claremont Park after the avenue on its east side, but renamed in 1912 after the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York donated 2,500 cherry blossom trees to the city. 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 the park.
In 1960, another gift was given to the 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.
The 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 statue is oriented such that it faces Grant's Tomb across Riverside Drive and thus it appears Butterfield is looking at the tomb of his fellow Civil War general and the president in whose cabinet he served.
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.
- "Sakura Park - Historical Sign". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- "Sakura Park". Consulate General of Japan in New York. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- "Cherry Walk - Historical Sign". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- Simons, Justine (12 April 2012). "Gifts From Japan, Less Celebrated in Manhattan". The New York Times.
- French, Howard W. (October 10, 1987). "Japanese Prince Visits Harlem". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- Media related to Sakura Park at Wikimedia Commons