Recalling fond memories of her time in the Philippines while her husband was Governor General, Helen Herron Taft, as First Lady in 1909, wanted to “convert Potomac Park into a glorified Luneta where all of Washington could meet…” On April 17 that year, the first musical concert was held at the Potomac Park and the Philippine Constabulary Band (a band that had performed regularly at Luneta) was one of the featured performers. Later, Eliza Scidmore, a travel writer, encouraged Mrs. Taft to create a Japanese cherry blossom season at the park. Upon hearing about this project, the Mayor of Tokyo gifted the United States with the two thousand young trees. Today, thousands of tourists visit the park to see the lovely pink and white cherry blossoms in spring time.
Photo credit: Sharon Tee
Click here to listen to a 1910 recording by the Philippine Constabulary Band.
West Potomac Park. West Basin Drive, SW. Open to the public. Go to National Park Service for more information.
Carl Sfferrazza Anthony (2006) The Unconventional First Lady of the Ragtime Era (New York: Harper Collins Publishers); Irwin Hood Hoover (1934) Forty-Two Years in the White House (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company); Helen Herron Taft (1914) Recollections of Full Years (New York : Dodd, Mead & Co.); Robert L. Yoder (2013) In Performance: Walter Howard Loving and the Philippine Constabulary Band (Manila: National Historical Commission of the Philippines).