In 1997, Parks renamed the George Washington Houses Playground of East Harlem Cherry Tree Playground. The park’s new name draws attention to both the property’s distinguishing trees and the folklore engendered by President Washington’s reputation for honesty. As popular 19th century legend has it George Washington (1732-1799) once cut down his father’s prized cherry tree on a youthful whim. According to Mason Weems, the biographer to whom the legend is attributed, Washington was tempted to deny his misdeed when confronted with the prospect of punishment, but, “looking at his father with the sweet face of youth brightened with the inexpressible charm of all-conquering truth, he bravely cried out, “I can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet.’” Since then, the cherry tree has been regarded as a symbol of young Washington’s integrity.
Cherry Tree Playground’s original name referred to the adjacent housing project wi