In 1885, when Eliza returned to Washington, D.C., after visiting her brother in Japan, she thought about the beautiful cherry trees she had seen there. She imagined how they could be gracing the swampy area around the Potomac's Tidal Basin area.
She approached the man in charge of the Washington parks. She described her plan and showed photographs of the lovely trees. He rejected her idea, as did many supervisors who followed in the job.
Above is the Shoreham Hotel where Eliza was living in April of 1909. It was a fashionable location where many politicians, society notables, and Eliza crossed paths. (Photos from the DC Public Library, here.) Below is Helen Taft (LOC photo)
Eliza did not give up, though it took twenty four years to accomplish her goal. A month after President Taft's inauguration, (shown above on a chilly March day in 1909), Eliza wrote to Mrs. Taft and enlisted her help. She knew that Helen Taft had seen the cherry trees in Japan.
Above is a letter Eliza wrote to David Fairchild, a friend and fellow cherry tree booster, on April 27, 1909, asking for contact information to import cherry trees from Japan.
(Courtesy of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden)