Map of DC showing density of cherry blossom trees

Counting Peak Bloom

March 19, 2024

The beauty of D.C.’s cherry blossoms isn’t in the festival, the parade or the hordes of tourists who descend upon the National Mall.

It’s in quietly strolling down a familiar path to the grocery store, suddenly seeing flowers emerge from branches that were barren for months. And more the next day, and the next, until the whole neighborhood is in bloom again.

Then the pollen hits, the flowers fall off to be replaced by leaves and the overwhelming humidity of summer sets in. But for a brief interlude, the streets of your home have never seemed so lovely.

I wanted to see where I should walk to see even more cherry blossoms without the chaos of the Mall. (Don’t get me wrong: the Tidal Basin in bloom is stunning, but much like Times Square on New Year’s Eve it isn’t the scene for everyone.)

Using data from Casey Trees, I mapped cherry trees across the District to count how many are near any address. Click on your home to find how many you can reach in a half mile radius, or about a ten minute walk.

How Many Trees Can You See Nearby?

 cherry blossom trees within one half mile
Show Metro stations
Click on the map to count trees

Consider this just a starting point, a partial view of the blooms you can find on your next trek to the pharmacy. The data doesn’t include trees planted on private property and some parks. Many of my favorite trees are planted in lawns of apartment buildings and row homes, missing from the map but still bringing just as much joy as those found a few feet away in the city-owned tree boxes.

On a less busy spring day, you might want to explore a new place in search of more flowers and a different view of the blooms. You can even ride a themed train or bus to get there. (Track them online!)

Here’s how many cherry trees are near each Metro stop. Yes, the Mall is the blossom capital of the District. But plenty of other neighborhoods are full of the flowers too, without the crowds. Pick almost any stop outside of downtown D.C. and you’ll find plenty of trees nearby.

Blossoms Near the Metro

StationCherry blossom trees within one half mile
Smithsonian Orange, Silver, Blue593
Tenleytown-AU Red366
Van Ness-UDC Red260
Friendship Heights Red232
Benning Road Silver, Blue211
Minnesota Ave Orange199
Waterfront Green190
Deanwood Orange177
Brookland-CUA Red176
Rhode Island Ave Red166
Stadium-Armory Orange, Silver, Blue164
Cleveland Park Red164
Congress Heights Green160
Woodley Park Red158
Takoma Red152
Georgia Ave-Petworth Green150
Shaw-Howard U Green137
Fort Totten Red, Green136
Columbia Heights Green126
Foggy Bottom-GWU Orange, Silver, Blue121
Potomac Ave Orange, Silver, Blue113
Federal Triangle Orange, Silver, Blue105
Farragut West Orange, Silver, Blue94
U Street Green93
Eastern Market Orange, Silver, Blue84
Navy Yard-Ballpark Green84
Capitol South Orange, Silver, Blue83
Anacostia Green69
Mt Vernon Sq Yellow, Green68
Union Station Red54
Dupont Circle Red44
Federal Center SW Orange, Silver, Blue44
NoMa-Gallaudet U Red40
Farragut North Red40
Judiciary Square Red35
L'Enfant Plaza Orange, Silver, Blue, Yellow, Green32
Gallery Place Red, Yellow, Green26
Archives Yellow, Green23
McPherson Sq Orange, Silver, Blue9
Metro Center Red, Orange, Silver, Blue9

I don’t live in a peak cherry blossom neighborhood, according to the data.

But does it really matter? Are 200 trees so much better than 100 or 50? Seeing 20 trees in full bloom as I walk to buy groceries is still a delight.

In another month or two, when the flowers are long gone and it’s 90 degrees at 8 a.m., I’ll be longing for the return of winter, and then, once again, the blossoms of spring.

Upward view of a tree with white cherry blossoms against a vivid blue sky
Tree with light pink blossoms in a park
Close up view of light pink cherry blossoms
Branches of tree with medium pink cherry blossoms

How I Built It

Cherry blossom tree locations are from Casey Trees. The dataset does not include trees planted on private property and some parks. Metro route and station locations are from Open Data DC. I incorporated updates from WMATA.

I processed data and created the hexagonal grid map showing tree density using R. The map colors use a logarithmic scale.

I built the interactive map with a stack of open-source tools. I used the DC Master Address Repository API to retrieve addresses for points that readers click on the map. The basemap data is from OpenStreetMap, with tiles generated using Planetiler and processed using Tippecanoe and Protomaps. I built the map with MapLibre and Turf. I styled the base map in part using Maputnik and generated font files with MapLibre's Font Maker using Google Fonts. I built this web page using the Los Angeles Times’ Baker build tool.

View the source code for this page and for the data cleaning and analysis on Github.