Life in gardens: spring dance

Rites of Spring, 1927, Wash.DC, Library of CongressDancers and cherry blossoms, [Tidal Basin,] Washington, D.C.,” between 1923 and 1929, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., began on March 20 and continues until April 12. This year, the National Park Service is predicting that peak bloom will occur between April 11 and 14.

The first Tidal Basin Yoshino cherry trees — a gift from the city of Tokyo — were planted in 1912. The first organized celebration of them was held in 1927, when D.C. schoolchildren reenacted the planting.  The first Cherry Blossom Festival, which became the annual event, took place in 1935.

Picturing D.C. (year by year)

"Photographers shooting cherry blossoms, Washington D.C., April 7, 1922," by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
“Photographers shooting cherry blossoms, Washington D.C., April 7, 1922,” by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and D.C. Past.

I want to share my recent discovery of D.C. Past, a tumblr blog that is “curating the photographic history” of Washington, D.C.

Kate Birmingham and Guillermo Esteves choose 19th and 20th century photos from the online catalogues of the Library of Congress and the National Archives.  However, when shown on D.C. Past, the images are generally much larger and (pretty darn) sharp.

I love this early shot, below, of the Lincoln Memorial — the Reflecting Pool is still only a wetland.

"Lincoln Memorial with Marsh in foreground," 1917, by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
“Lincoln Memorial with marsh in foreground,” 1917, by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and D.C. Past.

Four years later. . .

"Lincoln Memorial from Monument," May 30, 1922, by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
“Lincoln Memorial from Monument,” May 30, 1922, by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and D.C. Past.

You’ll have to go to D.C. Past, here and here, for the “much larger” part.

I like these swimmers below too.  They’re in the Tidal Basin.  And yesterday’s post was interesting — look at the (lack of) height of the fence.

"Bathing Beach,"  Washington, D.C., Tidal Basin, ca. 1912-1930, by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs  Division.
“Bathing Beach,” Washington, D.C., Tidal Basin, ca. 1912-1930, by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and D.C. Past.

(A link to the photo at the top is here.)

D.C. Past is still rather new; its first picture was posted in March 2013.  But this makes it easy to catch up and get hooked.

There is also a NYC Past here and a Chicago Past here.

Vintage landscape: painting the cherry blossoms

Painting the cherry blossoms, Wash., DC, c. 1920“An artist seen painting the Cherry Blossoms along the Tidal Basin,” Washington, D.C., by E. B. Thompson. The photo is undated, but was possibly taken in the 1920s. Via D. C. Public Library Commons on flickr.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., will begin next week on Wednesday, March 20, and will continue through April 14.  Click here for more information on events and local accomodations.

The National Park Service is predicting that peak bloom (70% of the flowers open) will occur March 26 – 30.  The average date for peak bloom is April 4.

[ADDENDUM: The Capital Weather Gang blog at The Washington Post is departing from the NPS prediction.  They believe that the peak bloom will come between April 3 and 7.]

Here’s another lovely hand-colored photograph of the Tidal Basin from about 1920.

Tidal Basin, Washington, DC, c. 1920The photographer is unknown; the image is via the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The cherry trees along Washington’s Tidal Basin were a gift from the Japanese government 101 years ago, so they would have been about 10 to 15 years old at the time of these photos.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

— A. E. Housman, “Loveliest of trees, the cherry now