BELLEVILLE:
THE CHERRY BLOSSOM
CAPITAL OF  AMERICA

cherry.jpg (60768 bytes)

A HISTORY OF BRANCH BROOK'S CHERRY BLOSSOMS

Branch Brook Park, located within Newark and Belleville, New Jersey, has become
the major site of an American display of Japanese cherry trees.The park's display
exceeds even the famed Tidal Basin collection in Washington, D.C., where the first
trees were planted as gifts from the mayor of Tokyo.

Branch Brook's original trees were a gift from Caroline Bamberger Fuld. Mrs. Fuld donated
2,000 trees to the Essex County parks system. The year was 1927 and the donation
couldn't have come at a better time since landscapers had been planning to beautify the
ravine of the Second River in the park. In 1977, on the 50th Anniversary of the
original gift, two Newarkers, Kathleen P. Galop and Gary Brian Liss, established the
Newark Cherry Blossom Tree Fund with $10,000 in donations from private citizens and
Newark companies. Over 300 trees were planted from this Tree Fund. Continuing in
this tradition, the New Jersey Opera has donated 24 trees in 1990 to add to this
magnificent collection. Currently, there are more than 2,700 trees which have
replaced the original donation. New tree donations are accepted from the public each year.

A half million people visit the park during the month of April when the cherry blossoms
are in full bloom. During this three-week period, thousands of people have marveled
in the quiet serenity found by strolling under a canopy of pink and white petals.
It is the first sign of spring and its new beginnings.

Branch Brook Park has been placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The entire collection of cherry trees is maintained by the Essex County Department of
Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. In a typical year, 850 work hours are spent on
clipping, pruning and removing dead trees, and another 900 hours go towards planting,
staking, wrapping and watering new trees.

A FEW TIPS ON YOUR CHERRY BLOSSOM VISIT

Public Transportation: It is recommended that public transportation be used whenever
possible, since traffic and parking are heavy during peak hours. The newly remodeled
Newark City Subway, operated by New Jersey Transit, is an excellent way to visit
Branch Brook Park, since the last stop leaves you off in Cherry Blossom Land.
There is ample parking in Newark's Penn Station where the City Subway begins.
Call New Jersey Transit at 1-800-772-2222 for additional information on the City
Subway, as well as local bus routes.

Parking: During peak hours, parking is limited. There is parking at the Visitor's Center
in the park. There is a parking lot on Franklin Avenue across from the Stephen Crane
Apartments and parking on the park road between Heller Parkway and Bloomfield
Avenue. On Sundays there is parking on the right side of the road. Also, parking
is available in Newark's Penn Station and in the lot of the Cathedral of the Sacred
Heart off Park Avenue in Newark.

Litter: A Good rule of thumb is take out everything you bring in. Trash cans overflow
very quickly, so bring an empty bag for your trash which you can discard at home.
We all have to pitch in...

Vandalism: Picking blossoms damages the cherry trees and destroys their beauty.
There is a fine for damaging vegetation in a county park. Please, please help preserve
this beautiful natural resource.

HOW TO GET THERE

From South Jersey: Garden State Parkway north to Exit 145. Go east on Route 280 to
First Street Exit (stay left). At traffic light at end of ramp, make a left onto First Street.
Make a right at Park Avenue (2nd traffic light). Make an immediate right into the park
and follow park road to display.

From North Jersey: Garden State Parkway south to Exit 149. Make a right at end of
ramp onto JFK Parkway. Go to first light, make a right onto Belleville Avenue. Proceed
to third light, make a right onto Franklin Avenue. Go to fourth light, make a left onto
Heller Parkway. Make first left into Branch Brook's Cherry Blossom Land.

From Lincoln Tunnel: Route 3 West to Route 21 South. Take Mill Street exit. Follow
this road into park display.


Source: Brochure Developed by the 1997 Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival Committee Inc.

Return to the Belleville Home Page Return to the Library's Home Page