Author Archives: Ria

Memories of a Trip to New England

It is not that common for the July 4th holiday to fall on a Monday or Friday, presenting us a long weekend, like it does this year. The last time this happened, in 2011, we decided to do a road trip to New England, despite the threat of heavy traffic on the roads. And boy, what a fabulous trip it was!

Plymouth and Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, Sebago Lake State Park, Bailey’s Island, Acadia National Park, Sand Beach, Cadillac Mountain, and Bar Harbor in Maine… that was our travel plan. We were four of us on the trip, all walking enthusiasts, of course some more so than others.

Plymouth town is named after Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, the first New England settlement by the immigrants from England who sailed on the ship Mayflower. Several prominent citizens of the 18th and 19th centuries are associated with this town.

At 6,288 ft Mount Washington is the highest peak in the north eastern United States. Can you believe, Giovanni da Verrazzano – of the Verrazzano Narrows fame – noticed the mountain from the Atlantic Ocean in 1524 and wrote about it?

Intending travellers are warned of the tricky climb up the mountain at the beginning of the road.

NET-mt-washington-road

The views from the car windows are awesome to say the least. As the road goes up, layer upon layer of mountain ranges unfold beneath. And the vegetation grows scantier, ending in miniature plants and evergreens. As you reach the top, the only vegetation to be seen are the lichen clinging to the rocks.

NET-climb-to-mt-washington

For 76 years till 2010, Mt. Washington held the record for the highest wind gust directly measured at the Earth’s surface, at 231 miles per hour, recorded by the weather observatory at the top, on April 12, 1934.

NET-view-from-mt-washington

The Mount Washington Cog Railway, the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway, is still in operation, though we did not have the time to ride on it! 🙁

NET-mt-washington-cog-railway

Also, several hiking trails go up the mountain. These trails provide spectacular views of the surrounding ravines and mountains. Plans for another day!

The Lakes Region of Maine consists of more than 50 lakes, of which Sebago Lake is the largest. The lake has several beaches suitable for activities like boating and camping. Also, the Sebago Lake State Park has hiking and biking facilities as well.

NET-sebago-lake

As our plan was focused more on sightseeing than activities on this trip, we continued on to Bailey Island, which is located at the end of one of those finger like protrusions into the Casco Bay to the south of Maine.

NET-map-bailey-island

The drive to Bailey Island, along the Harpswell Island Road, is one of the most beautiful ones I have ever been on… the two-lane road passes over beautiful bridges and presents a view of the water at all times, sometimes on both sides of the road.

NET-bridge-baileys-island

The shores are rocky, with spreading green meadows and lawns going up the shore line. And houses like picture post cards!

NET-view-baileys-island

No trip to Maine is complete without at least one encounter with the lobster! And the lobster did not disappoint… I do believe there is something really special about eating a lobster in Maine!

NET-maine-lobster

We drove till the end of Bailey Island, which spot offers a wide view of the waters and some of the surrounding islands.

NET-view-lands-end-bailey-island

Amazingly beautiful!

 

To be continued…

 

~Ria

27 Jun 2014

On the Kindness of Strangers…

At some time or other, we have all been touched by the kindness of strangers. I’m not talking about someone helping you with a heavy suitcase down the staircase at the train station or holding the door for you when you are loaded with shopping bags. Those are actions of the moment, without much thought behind them, more like reflexes of good manners. What I’m referring to are actions that are the results of conscious decisions to help others with no thought of personal gain.
 
The other day I was listening to ‘This American Life’ on NPR, and the story was about unusual acts of kindness by strangers. What was unusual about them was that some of the stories were not even intended as acts of kindness. Like, the guy who walked along the subway platform, telling each waiting passenger that were either in or out. The story goes on to narrate how inspiring it was to be told ‘you’re in’, though it meant nothing and was just a random muttering from a stranger. Was there an intention here to help people feel good? I would rather doubt it, but the end result was that it made others happy.
 
Listening to the stories, I was reminded of an incident, two summers ago, when I was subject to an act of kindness – actually, more like a present – from a stranger.
 
It was around 2 pm and I was waiting for a train to downtown, to meet a friend for a movie. As usual I had a book with me, and sat reading as I was a few minutes early. Suddenly I got this feeling that eyes were upon me and looking up saw this person watching me intently. I looked around; lots of people on the platform, so no need to worry. Ignoring the watching eyes I returned my attention to the book.
 
Time for the train and I got up and walked out. The person approached me smiling and started speaking. It was easy to say, ‘sorry, I don’t speak Spanish’. He extended a small card towards me and kept talking in a mix of English and Spanish. The only words I could get were… ‘for you… books… to read’. He pushed the card into my hand. I looked down and saw that it was a Barnes & Noble gift card. Like a true New Yorker I thought… Oh, the guy wants to sell me the card – probably blank. Yeah, right!
 
By this time, the train was approaching the platform. I tried to give the card back to him. But he wouldn’t take it and kept explaining. What I could grasp from his talk was this: he was a visitor to the city and was going back that day. Did not have time to use the card, and so wanted to give it to me.
 
The train doors were open, and it was easier to say ‘thank you’ and get in to the train than continue arguing with him. And I was careful to sit far away from where he sat. I pushed the card into the book I was reading.
 
I did not think of it further till I was passing in front of the Barnes & Noble store on Broadway (which has since closed). Went in and checked to see if the card was of any value. How much do you think was on that card? 78 dollars! I was amazed, to say the least. And truly felt ashamed at being so suspicious of the guy’s intentions!
 
Why did he pick me to make a present of the card? I cannot make a guess, except maybe it was because I was the only one reading a serious book on the station platform.
 
I still remember two of the books I bought with that card… ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ by Jhumpa Lahiri and ‘Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas’ by Tom Robbins, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed!

20 Jun 2014

The Magic of Bryant Park

Soon to be updated…

13 Jun 2014

The Park in the Sky

How often does one get a chance to be part of history? That too, the history of such magnificent city as New York? Such was the good fortune of the people around when the Highline opened on June 9, 2009.

What is Highline? It is a beautiful, beautiful park that was built and nurtured on the abandoned old tracks of the 6th Avenue El!

hl-rails2

A bit of flashback… the Els, or elevated railroads, in New York were built to avoid the frequent accidents that used to happen with the freight trains running on the ground in the city. It was sooo bad that horse-riding men were employed to gallop ahead of running trains, waving red flags, to keep pedestrians off the tracks! Hence was conceived the idea of train tracks off the ground and running above the city streets.

On June 5, 1878, the 6th Ave El started operations. It covered a distance of 13 miles with stations at Rector St, Cortlandt St, and Park Place on Church Street; Chambers St, Franklin St, Grand St, Bleecker St on West Broadway; 8th, 14th, 23rd, 28th, 33rd, 42nd, 50th and 58th Streets on Sixth Avenue. The line also connected directly to factories and warehouses, enabling freight trains to deliver meat and produce – raw as well as processed – inside the buildings. And what is great, is that the traffic on the El did not affect the ground traffic at all!

However, by the 1930s, the decline of the El had started. The entire structure had weakened beyond hope of repairs. After being operational for 60 years, it was decided that the 6th Avenue El will be torn down. And on Dec 4, 1938, the operations on the line came to an end. And parts of the line were dismantled.

Fast forward to 1980s… plans are being made for the demolition of the remaining parts of the El. Local residents headed by environmentalists and activists challenge the plans in court. In 1999, a neighbourhood group, ‘Friends of the High line’ is formed to find alternate usage for the space offered by the now defunct railroad tracks.
Gradually support for the group increases and in 2002 a City Council resolution is passed advocating the reuse of the tracks.

In 2004, funding from the city is acquired for the development of the tracks. A design is selected through competition and the Highline Park comes into being, with the first section extending from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street open to the public on June 9, 2009!

hl-rails1

‘Enchanting’ is an apt word to describe the Highline. The rail tracks are kept intact and flowers, shrubs and trees of all kinds are planted along the sides and between the tracks. And they change according to the seasons, adding variety to the overall sense of greenness that the park has.

hl-flowers

The rail tracks that used to go into the meat packing factories and other manufacturing facilities can still be seen, though the entrances to the buildings are blocked up.

hl-rails4

You can enjoy coffee, snacks and ice cream in one of these red brick factories, converted to a small marketplace. Also, you will find commemorative t-shirts, pens and very interesting books in the marketplace.

hl-rails3

And the Highline has become a venue for art shows and exhibitions. The other day when we visited, a sculpture show was going on, attracting quite a few fans.

hl-artwork

In fact, the whole area surrounding the Highline has developed an aura of artiness as evident from the street paintings and art objects.

hl-neighbouring-art1

Looks like even the neighbouring buildings are inspired to contribute to the effort!

hl-neighbouring-art2

And the views! Boy oh boy! It’s wonderful to look along the streets from the height of the Highline Park.

hl-view-left

And some of the best views of the Hudson are from the Highline.

hl-hudsonview2

Looking for an exotic venue for your next event or occasion? Come to the Highline! And if you are in a mood to help out with the park, you can always volunteer. All in all, the Highline Park is making history in the neighbourhood!

 

~Ria

06 Jun 2014

Norman Rockwell, the Artist

I knew there was a show of Norman Rockwell paintings going on at Newark Museum. And it is something I definitely wanted to go and see. But you know how it is… oh, the show is going to be there for a long while… I can go anytime. Then, I get this email from Newark Museum that it is the last three days of the show. No more postponing… I have to go right away. And that is what I did. Boy, am I glad I went! It is such an awesome show.
 
whole-gallery

Norman Rockwell was an artist who captured the best in American life, through his paintings of everyday scenes. According to him, the commonplaces of America are the richest subjects in art. Starting his artistic career at the age 19 as the art editor for Boys’ Life, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America, he has worked for publications like The Saturday Evening Post, Look, Ladies’ Home Journal, Literary Digest, and Life.
 
gallery-wall
 
What is so endearing about the Rockwell works is the innocence of the characters depicted. Be it the boys indulging in very boy-like games or the young girl preening herself in front of the mirror, or the young soldier trying the few French words he knows on a little girl in France, they all show a guileless side of humanity. Looking at his paintings, viewers will be tempted to reaffirm their faith in humanity, overcoming all cynicism. All you see in those paintings are the small joys and celebrations of life, every day scenes that bring a smile to your face.
 
boys1
 
These are not works that you look at and move on; these painting will hold you to the spot, wondering at what you are seeing. Each of them has a story to tell, that too in minute detail. There is so much to see in the paintings that you could see them again and again, and keep noticing new details.
 
colgate

And these are the stories of everyday American life. So much so, that one tends to think of a day to day idyllic scene as a ‘Norman Rockwell moment’! That is how much he has become a part of the American art scene.
 
santa-boy
 
This painting, titled, ‘The Discovery’, appeared on the Saturday Evening Post cover in 1956. The interpretation was that it shows the boy’s horror on discovering that Santa does not exist. In my personal opinion, that’s not it at all… I can almost read his mind… ‘Oh my god, what did these people do with Santa? Did they kill him?’ 🙂
 
girl-mirror
 
For such a prolific artist whose concentration on his work was all-absorbing, he was also very organised. He will take multiple photos with models – often people from his own circle, including family members – and prepare meticulously to capture the exact scenes and emotions he wanted. He was also extremely careful in keeping his studio clean to the point of fastidiousness; his studio was swept and the paint brushes cleaned with ivory soap four to six times a day!
 
3-way-artist

Movie legends George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are big time fans and collectors of Norman Rockwell’s art. The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C had held an exhibition, ‘Telling Stories Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’ in 2010-11.
 
many-covers

Norman Rockwell was a very unassuming person. He claimed to be an illustrator rather than an artist. And when asked how much he was being paid for the covers he did for Saturday Evening Post, he response was, ‘twice what they are worth’! In that connection, it is worth mentioning that one of his paintings titled, ‘Saying Grace’ sold for 46 million in an auction in New York City in December 2013. I wonder what he would have said to that!

 

~Ria

23 May 2014

Broadway!

If anyone was asked to name the most heard of street – road, highway, boulevard, whatever – in the world, the universal answer will be ‘Broadway’! Reaching far back into history, and glorified in so many works of fiction and poetry, this thoroughfare could be the most identifiable single element of the great city of New York!
 
broadway

This is the oldest north-south arterial road in New York, existing from pre-Dutch times, when it was just a trail used by the native Americans. With the Dutch settling at the southern end of Manhattan island in 1620s, it became a country road extending north, beyond the gates of the settlement at present-day Wall Street. Today Broadway runs the length of Manhattan, starting at Bowling Greens in the south and moving out of Manhattan past 220th Street. (Actually, it extends further another 20 miles, to end at Sleeping Hollow in Westchester county, but it’s the Manhattan part that matters, right?)
 
happy-bus
Broadway could not be contained within the grid system of New York City roads, adopted in 1811, and goes diagonally for most of its way through midtown. That also explains the curious shapes of some of the buildings at Broadway’s intersections. A prime example of this will the Flatiron Building.
 
parade1

Starting with an impromptu parade on October 28, 1886 to celebrate the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, Broadway has always been the place for parades. A parade could be to honour a visiting head of state or someone with a major achievement, or to celebrate a victory in a sports event or anything else significant. Thus did Broadway get the sobriquet ‘Canyon of Heroes’.
 
parade2

The new generation may not – will not – remember the quarter inch ticker tapes that carried the stock prices from the exchanges and spewed out by the stock ticker machine. As the lower part of Broadway has always been lined on either side by financial institutions and brokerage firms, they had a lot of this ticker tape lying around. So what was more natural than showering some of it on the procession going down on Broadway… yep, just like confetti! And thus did the parades on Broadway get the name ticker tape parades.
 
parade3

These days, the ticker tape parades go from Battery Park to the City Hall. And each parade is commemorated by a granite strip with the name of the person being honoured set into the sidewalk of the Canyon of Heroes.
 
amelia-two

Only, instead of the ticker tape, paper from the shredder is most often used!
 
nehru
Along the Broadway are Wall Street, Zuccotti Park of Occupy Wall Street fame, Trinity Church, City Hall Park, Union Square, Times Square, Columbus Circle and Central Park, Columbia University, The Cloisters, and a host of other interesting places.
 

trinity

Trinity Church

And these days Broadway has become a synonym for theatre in NYC! Mainly for the reason that the theatre district where the majority of the playhouses are located, is right on the Broadway. And from there, you have off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway performances as well! And if you want to snag some discount tickets, that can be done at the ticket kiosk at Times Square too!
 

tkts

Ticket booth at Times Square

zuccoti

Zuccotti Park

food

Food trucks along Broadway, downtown

A random thought… wouldn’t it be great to do a full walking trip of the Broadway, from one end of Manhattan to the other? Say for example, start at Broadway Bridge at the top of Manhattan and walk all the way to Bowling Green… sounds awesome! So here it is… before this summer is over, I’m going to do that. It takes me around 15 minutes to walk a mile; 13 miles in a day will be easy-peasy! One more item added to the summer fun!

 

~Ria

16 May 2014

Back to downtown for a lunch time walk…

Soon after I had moved to the mid-town office (The salt mine I work at has offices all over the world!), I had taken a happy break from winter, going to work from our Bangalore office. So it had been a while since I was in downtown New York. Okay, five months, but this is New York and a lot can happen in five months! And recently when I went to meet a few friends there, it was like a new place… all exciting and interesting! And of course, I went on a lunch time walk. So this is for all my friends who used to share that walk in times gone by…
 
path-tunnel

The first noticeable change was the new connection to the Winter Garden from the World Trade Center PATH station. Gone is the bridge and corridor overlooking the construction site at WTC. The high ceilinged concourse is stunning, with the pillars arching over, way above the pedestrians. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the concourse is part of the transportation center at the WTC, scheduled to open in 2015. The concourse will have shops lining the sides when whole construction is complete.
 
winter-garden

The Winter Garden is also being redone, of course, without changing the iconic basic structure.
 
trees-winter-garden

The trees outside the winter garden always reminded me of candelabras in their winter state. And in the next week or so, those branches will be adorned with green leaf clusters, obscuring the structure of the branches, but providing such delightful shade to people taking their lunch break under them.
 
tree-with-buds

The trees have already started sprouting buds, even as last year’s dry seeds are still hanging on.
Squirrels are already busy starting their collection for the next winter. Come on buddies, don’t worry… winter is sooo far away!
 
squirrel1

It is a wonderful walk along the tree lined walkway to the battery Park, with river Hudson on one side.
 
battery-walk2

I love the blue lights along the South Cove where one can climb up on the viewing towers to get a good look at the Hudson traffic and the Statue of Liberty.
 
blue-lights

And there are interesting art works as you continue past the South Cove. One of the art works always aroused speculation among us though its name was clearly written. I have seen people looking at it from all angles to see what the artist wanted them to see, instead of what a first look told them. Here is the artwork for you…
 
eyes

There is one willow tree that I take note every year; it is one of the first to sprout and it is ever beautiful with its delicate tresses waving in the breeze from the river.
 
weeping-willow

At the corner of Battery Park is Pier A, originally constructed in 1886 and in use variously by the New York City Department of Docks and Harbor Police till 1992. It is the oldest historic pier in the city and is a designated New York City Landmark. Currently, it is being restored and will be home to an oyster bar and restaurant.
 
pier-A

Charming is the apt word to describe the Manhattan skyline from this point. The red stones of the old buildings and the blue reflection on the new 1 World Trade Center tower look so well matched.
 
skyline-with-tower

From the Battery Park, I turn to Broadway and the walk back. Of course, saying Hi to the Wall Street bull.
 
wall-street-bull

The history of that bull and how it came to be in that spot is a story connected to the illustrious past of this financial capital of the world. Another time…
 

~Ria

09 May 2014

The Museum Across the Bridge

This Sunday I knew I was going to Brooklyn… interesting things happening there. The Botanical Garden is celebrating Sakura Matsui (Cherry Blossom Festival) with traditional Japanese taiko drumming and martial arts, Japanese classical dances, an all-female marching band, anime rock from Tokyo and a samurai sword play… while the Brooklyn Museum is showing a number of very interesting artists including Ai WeiWei from China. The decision was made for me when the day dawned all chilly and windy… definitely a day to stay indoors. So the museum it was.

museum

Brooklyn Museum is New York City’s second largest museum and has an extensive collection of antiquities from all over the world. The Egyptian, African, Oceanic, and South East Asian collections are so large that only a part of them can be displayed at any time. That too, with an area of 560,000 square feet!
In addition to the historical artefacts in the various galleries, the museum also displays works of contemporary artists. Currently on view are controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, artist and author Judy Chicago and street artist Swoon. Other prominent exhibitions currently on are Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties, and Connecting Cultures. Fortunately, the museum allows photography in most of the areas, sans the flash of course. So that was a delightful Sunday indeed!

chairs-aiweiwei

When looking at Ai Weiweiis art, the first thing that impressed me is the creative ways in which he has used art as an expression of his activism. The person speaking loudest from behind each of the exhibits at the show is the activist, not the artist. And that is essentially the power of his art.

crabs-aiweiwei

Just take a look at this… six iron boxes the size of small rooms. You can step on a stool and look inside through a small square of glass. What you see inside is Weiwei while he was imprisoned by the Chinese government in 2011. These dioramas named ‘S.A.C.R.E.D’ show him sleeping, eating, showering, undergoing interrogation and sitting on the toilet, all under the watchful eyes of guards.

diorama

A strong criticism of the Chinese government’s handling of the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan is presented in the exhibit ‘Straight’ which displays tons of long reinforced steel bars from the Sichuan earthquake sites, straightened and laid out on the floor like rippling water. Another piece of art ‘Snake Ceiling’ shows a giant snake made up of children’s backpacks to commemorate the thousands of children who died in the earthquake.

ceilin-snake-aiweiwei
Seeing the crowd around his ‘painted vases’, I couldn’t help wondering about the value of political art as opposed to art for art’s sake. Especially in the context of the Dropping the Urn stunt and the follow-on act at Miami with a million dollar Ai Weiwei vase. 🙂

pots-aiweiwei
 
swoon-tree
 
 
 
 
 
Swoon has made a name for herself as a street artist. And her show ‘Submerged Motherland’ is an installation consisting of a huge tree, made of pieces of cloth and old canal boats people lived on. The tree with white paper leaves in the typical swoon style, is a pretty sight. Though it is doubtful whether the artist would appreciate the adjective ‘pretty’!

 
 
 
 
 
 

Once an editor, always an editor; is that true? Anyway, I was walking through the Judy Chicago show and caught a typo – ‘she changed her same’ instead of ‘she changed her name’! Unfortunately, that was one part of the show where photography was prohibited. Anyways, I made a point of going to the Information counter and reporting the typo. Good deed for the day, done!

brooklyn-bridge-georgia-okeefe

And any talk about this visit to the Brooklyn Museum will not be complete without this beautiful painting by Georgia O’Keefe… and not a single flower in sight! What a joy!

 ~Ria

02 May 2014

Found on Amazon…

These days it is common to look at product reviews and compare price value equations before we make any purchase decisions. Who even selects a place for lunch or dinner without consulting Yelp? However, read customer reviews for entertainment? Whoever heard of such a thing? But trust me, there are customer reviews that read like National Book Award winners… and they are on a site that most of us visit regularly, amazon.com, world’s largest online retailer!
 
bana-slicer
 
There is this product, a banana slicer, that is available for sale at amazon.com. A simple tool to slice bananas into even sized pieces. This banana slicer has 4832 customer reviews. Till today. That is important because the comments have been coming for seven years, and I’m sure that count will go up. So what is there to write about a simple banana slicer, you ask? Aah, here is a sample…
 
funny-review1-1

Did you see? More than 50 thousand people found that review helpful! That is, including me! 🙂 And 458 of them wrote comments on the review. And the comments are pretty much in the same vein as the reviews.
 
Here is another interesting one…
 
funny-review2-2

How did it happen that such a large number of customers were interested in writing reviews of this product when on an average, a product on the site gets less than 50 reviews? It is what I would call viral reviews. I mean, the comment tendency must have spread like a virus among the customers!
 
The first review of the product is dated May 19, 2007. A regular review; good product, as advertised. And it continued till March 2, 2011, with a few reviews appearing over the years. Then, the fun started with this one on Mar 3, 2011.

funny-review3-3

And, it never stopped… gets better and better. The imagination, time and effort that goes into these are commendable.
 
funny-review4-4

And this is the latest one…

latest-review

These are the five star reviews; there are single star reviews as well, which are equally hilarious.
 
Here is a link to the banana slicer reviews. Don’t forget to check out the comments on the reviews. Also, the 456 questions that have been answered.
 
There are some customers (writers) who specialise in reviews which are a lot more than reviews. Here are a few links you may like.
 
A collection of 41 reviews

Huge collection of 111 reviews

Small collection, but hilarious
 
P.S. I liked the reviews so much that I couldn’t help ordering one… no, actually two! 🙂
 
order-at-amazon

~Ria

25 Apr 2014

How much flowers is too much flowers?

My dear readers have to excuse me for writing about flowers too much; what can I do? Wherever one looks it is all flowers… the Macy’s flower show gets over, it is the orchid show at New York Botanical Garden. Then it is time for the cherry blossom festival at Washington DC, and at Branch Brook Park next door! Not to forget all the trees flowering all over the place… in the local park, on the sides of all the streets, and of course, outside my window… Aah… the abundance of spring…
&nbsp’
Soooo… about the cherry blossom festival. This year, I got the timing exactly right. The three day weekend I had planned there was precisely when the season peaked. And it is cherry trees bursting out in blooms everywhere you look. The difficult part is to decide when to stop taking pictures… 🙂

CB-group

The Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC is one of the nation’s greatest springtime festivals. From the modest beginnings when a group of school children re-enacted the initial planting in 1927, the festival has grown to programs lasting five weeks with more than 1.5 million people visiting Washington DC for the occasion.

CB-aerial1

Despite the crowds, it is a fantastic experience to walk under the cherry trees in full bloom. Glimpses of blue sky through the pink and white petals… with the black branches making artistic outlines… and a breeze would send showers of petals down to the ground. This season of bliss lasts just about two weeks, and towards the end of that time, there will be carpets of pink and white all over the place.

CB-pink-white

The cherry trees in Washington DC were a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. The gift of two thousand cherry trees from the Japanese Embassy, to be planted along the Potomac river, arrived in 1910. However, it was discovered that the trees were infested with insects and had to be destroyed.

CB-closeup2

A second gift of cherry trees, now increased to 3,020, arrived in 1912 and were planted around the Tidal Basin, a partially man-made reservoir between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel.

CB-tidalbasin

Today, these cherry trees around the Tidal Basin put out the best show in town!

CB-tidalbasin-closeup

More trees, received as gifts as well as grown from cuttings from the original trees, have been planted, around the Tidal Basin and along the Potomac River. The most common cherry blossoms are of the Yoshino variety, in white or pale pink, each flower having five petals. The Yoshino trees are the first ones to bloom in early spring.

CB-aerial2

The Kwanzan trees bloom two weeks after the Yoshino trees kick off the show, and are of a darker pink colour and have multiple layers of petals.

CB-all-pink

The original trees that were planted in Washington DC came from the banks of the Arakawa River in a suburb of Tokyo. In 1952, those cherry trees, along the Arakawa River, had fallen into decline and the National Park Service of the US sent saplings from the descendants of the original trees back to Tokyo to restore the original grove.

Washington Monument seen through the cherry blossoms

Washington Monument seen through the cherry blossoms

Interesting facts… In 1938, it was decided that a number of cherry trees had to be cut down to prepare for the construction of the Jefferson Memorial (BTW, my favourite memorial in all of DC!) and a bunch of women angry at the prospect of cutting down the trees chained themselves together in protest! And could be pacified only with a promise to plant more trees framing the memorial.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial framed by cherry blossoms

Thomas Jefferson Memorial framed by cherry blossoms

~Ria

18 Apr 2014