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Monday, January 14, 2013

Sakura Park

Uptown near Columbia University and just east of Grant's Tomb is a peaceful rectangle called Sakura Park, named after the cherry blossoms ("sakura" in Japanese) the bloom on a batch of trees Japan donated to the city a century ago. (No, you won't see any cherry blossoms in my photos. It's January.)

It's peaceful here partly because there isn't much in the park, really – a small pavilion at the north end, a Japanese lantern donated by the City of Tokyo in 1960, a playground with a sandbox, and the cherry trees themselves.

And, bearing no relation whatsoever to the Japanese theme, there is a statue by Gutzon Borglum (of Mount Rushmore fame) of the generously mustachioed Civil War general Daniel Butterfield, who is credited with composing the bugle call "Taps."

The park's only really striking feature is the exterior wall on its eastern side, an ivy-festooned copy of Kenilworth Abbey's wall in England, built in the 1930s as part of a park redesign by the Olmsted Brothers firm. Verdict: Park – nice. Wall – bravo.

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