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Spending Twenty Minutes At The Tidal Basin

D.C. is filled with visually exciting public spaces. To get an idea of how people are using these spaces, Curbed writers are spending twenty minutes in a given location and taking note of what they see. Want to nominate a place for this series? Hit up our tipline. On Saturday, Curbed DC contributor Danielle Cralle spent 1:00 p.m.-1:25 p.m. at the Tidal Basin in the midst of all the Cherry Blossom madness.

1:00 p.m. — After nudging through a sea of people and a rather unruly metro, I finally make it to the basin. Predictably, it's packed. People from all walks of life are here. Families, couples, small kids and big kids and dogs. All races and shapes and sizes. Maybe it's the weather but the District is definitely alive today.

1:02 p.m. — There's a cluster of cherry blossoms that lie just in front of the water and people are posted up, having picnics, laying in the shade and generally just enjoying the day. I spot two men napping under one of the blossoms.

1:05 p.m. — I approach the water. Although it's murky, it's sparkling as the sun reflects off of it. There are people lazily paddle boating on the water, soaking up the novelty of the sun. Cherry blossoms line the basin and form a large semi-circle. The scene is best described as the perfect mix of spring colors. The sun is bright, the sky is blue and the blossoms are pink. Oh, the Jefferson memorial is directly in front of me and that too, is flooded with people.


1:06 p.m. — I get close to the blossoms and notice that they're actually white with a pale pink center, but when grouped together and viewed from a distance they become a soft, subtle pink.

1:08 p.m. — There's a nice breeze coming off the water and everyone is hanging out against the rail, taking in the beauty of the moment. As I turn around to continue moving, I bump into a man and his easel on a grassy knoll. He's capturing the moment with his paintbrush and his girlfriend is at his side, reading a book. He's already finished one picture of the blossoms and the crowd, and it stands proudly on display. Currently, he's painting a picture of two women standing alone against the rail, looking out onto the basin. Looking at his half-finished picture it's as if the hundreds of people currently at the basin have disappeared and no one else is here. They, the painter and his girlfriend, look peaceful despite the crowd that's gathered to watch him paint.


1:12 p.m. — I notice that everyone, it seems, has a camera. People are taking close shots of the blossoms, glamour shots of loved ones, and spectacular shots of the perfect backdrop that is the water. Camera phones, Canons, professionals and amateurs. Everyone wants a shot. The Jefferson memorial, which happens to be my personal favorite, is calling me, so I decide to walk that way.

1:16 p.m. — Apparently, everyone else had the same plan. It's a crawl to the site, and we're scrunched together like sardines. Well, at least that's how I feel. I'm almost irritated and then I look to my right and see the gorgeous, cherry blossom-framed water from a different angle. In the sea of pale-pink blossoms I see a bright pink cluster of blossoms sticking out in the distance. The pop of color is a nice change of pace. I think I'm okay now. I stop on the bridge and admire the birds swooping down for lunch.


1:23 p.m. — Still walking. The path is still lined with blossoms but now there's no rail against the basin. A kid is standing dangerously close to the edge, waving his arms out, posing for a picture. His dad is behind the camera phone, capturing the moment.

1:25 p.m. — I made it! Instead of going into the memorial I decide to sit on the edge, near the water. Helicopters hover over and geese swim by. As far as my eye can see, there are people. But from this angle the blossoms look nearly purple. Another kid with a helmet comes and sits next to me. He's pretty chill. The petals fall over us, and two girls glide by on the paddle boats. They're going in circles, but they seem okay with that.