We occasionally issue imperatives here about things we feel strongly about, but trust us when we say that you absolutely, positively do not want to miss New York City’s own annual rite of Spring: the flowering of the cherry blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.Located in the middle of the garden’s 52 acre spread, the gorgeous Cherry Esplanade was a gift to the United States from the Japanese government at the end of the War. And with over 200 trees and 40 different species, there is no other place showcasing this kind cherry tree variety in the world outside of Japan. Particularly spectacular is how downright Seussical a walk-through this pink canopy is, and how easy it enables one to check a jaded New York attitude at the front gate. Good luck attempting sarcasm or irony in the face of such a pure pink onslaught.Once in full bloom, these trees are vivid and gorgeous and according to the BBG real-time CherryWatch map, they’re in full bloom right now. However, their beauty is ephemeral and once flowered, the blossoms don’t last long. So, go. Play hooky, call it a prescription for mental health, do whatever you need to do– but do yourself a favor and go park under some cotton candy trees one morning this week and take a deep breath. It’s even free admission if you go between 10am-12pm.
I was walking down East 62nd Street this morning and was particularly struck by the contrast between the green leaves on the trees and this fantastic Beaux-Arts mansion that I have passed by so many times before.
Turns out 11 East 62nd Street was bought for $21,000,000 in 1999 by the Government of Japan and is used as the home of its permanent representati ve to the United Nations. It was built in 1900 by Margaret Vanderbilt Sheperd for her daughter Edith and her husband Ernesto Fabbri who was head of the Society for Italian Immigrants. Now known as the Fabbri-Steele Mansion, it stands 45 and a half feet wide with 22,500 square feet under roof! The architects, Haydel & Shepard, drew plans for massive entertaining spaces including the ornate ballroom, 21 by 45 foot mahogany paneled dining room, seven principle bedrooms, as well as nine staff rooms to house the Swedish chefs, English butler and footmen, Finnish lady’s maid, and Italian valet. Phew!
The second floor music room boasted this ridiculously ornate electro-pneumatic Aeolian Organ which was installed at a reported cost of $7,500. Apparently, most everything from the unpainted rolling oak doors in the kitchen to the studded leather door to the dining room was intact when the Japanese government bought the house 13 years ago. The organ was apparently disassembled and placed in storage where it waits restoration. Check out this 1999 Times article for more history and details and this for a little more on the Aeolian organ.