Tag Archives: Parks

P is for Park

Located at Brooklyn, New York City, main entrance at Grand Army Plaza
Park Website:  https://www.prospectpark.org/

Prospect Park

Prospect Park is an urban park in Brooklyn, New York City. The 585-acre park is one of the nation’s premier public parks. In 2017, Prospect Park celebrated its 150th anniversary.

The park has a long history. In the 18th century, Brooklyn was one of six villages located at the western end of Long Island. By the second half of the 19th century, Brooklyn had grown to be the third most populous city in the country, after only New York and Philadelphia. The erstwhile farming community had quickly turned into a commuter suburb with row homes and street grids.

The growth of urban concepts coincided with this growth. Following the setting up of Central Park in Manhattan, by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux starting 1858, a movement grew in Brooklyn for a landscaped park of its own. 

James S.T. Stranahan, a business and civic leader with real estate interests in Brooklyn argued for a park not only as a public nicety, but also as a way to lure wealthy residents to the town. In 1865, Calvert Vaux sketched Prospect Park’s present layout at Stranahan’s request. This induced the Brooklyn commissioners to authorize the full purchase of the land for Prospect Park.

A comprehensive plan for the development of Prospect Park was submitted by the Olmsted and Vaux team in 1866, envisioning a tranquil, rural landscape where people could recuperate from the incessant pace of city life. They designed an elaborate infrastructure for Prospect Park, and construction began on July 1, 1866, under their supervision.

The principal features of the design included the Long Meadow, a heavily wooded area they called the Ravine and a 60-acre lake, meandering carriage drives, high elevation scenic lookouts, woodland waterfalls and springs, and a rich forest. 

Original Park structures included rustic shelters and arbors, and sandstone bridges and arches. A Concert Grove House and Pavilion were built adjacent to the Lake so Park visitors could enjoy music in a pastoral setting, and there was a Wellhouse near Lookout Hill, and a Dairy complete with milking cows. 

The public was welcomed to the park for the first time on October 19, 1867, long before the Park was complete. Construction continued for another seven years. In the year 1868, 2 million people came to enjoy what would come to be known as ‘Brooklyn’s Jewel’.

Over the years, the park was improved by activities like the creation of the Prospect Park Zoo in 1935, new playgrounds around the Park’s perimeter, the extensive renovation of the Park drives in the 1950s, and the construction of the Bandshell. 

The park has undergone many ups and downs in its lifetime. By 1979, the number of the visitors had dwindled to just 2 million a year, the lowest in the Park’s history. In 1980 was started long term restoration efforts to bring back the glory of the park.

The 146-acre section in the center of the park, known as the Ravine, is also Brooklyn’s only forest. The Ravine’s stream and steep gorge is a recreation of the Adirondack Mountains, created by the original design team of Olmsted and Vaux. The Ravine has a variety of trees growing there from black oak to hickory to tulip trees.

Prospect Park originally included several arched bridges to provide grade-separated crossings for pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Today the main surviving arches are the Endale Arch, East Wood Arch, Meadowport Arch, and Cleft Ridge Span.

The Music Pagoda, used for concerts until it burned down in 1968, was rebuilt on the site in 1971.

The Camperdown Elm is a species of elm trees with drooping branches usually called ‘weeping elm’. The Camperdown Elm in Prospect Park, nicknamed ‘the crowning curio’ of the park was planted in 1872. It still survives in the park, though it was almost dead once.

The Prospect Park Boathouse is set in the most idyllic scene, with its beauty reflected in the waters. When the Parks Department proposed demolishing the boathouse in 1964, the local preservation group Friends of Prospect Park built public awareness over the park’s disappearing historical structures. The public pressure became so strong that the park commissioner halted plans for demolition.

In 1987, a group of private citizens working with the Parks Commissioner founded a new nonprofit organization to work with the City in leading Prospect Park’s transformation called the Prospect Park Alliance. More than a decade of intensive restoration efforts followed with focus on restoring the Ravine, a radical redesign of the skating rink and the lakeside, and restoration of the historic Baier Music Island.

The LeFrak Center, a year-round skating and recreational facility, was opened In 2013, in the final phase of the restoration and redesign of the Lakeside section.

A restoration project, focusing on an 8-acre section of the Vale, is being planned to start in 2024. The Vale is a 26-acre portion of Prospect Park in its northeast corner. The plan is to restore two landscape features in this area: the historic Children’s pool and the former Rose Garden.

The Grand Army Plaza, which was constructed along with the park during the late 1860s, is the park’s main entrance, though there are 17 other entrances to the park.

19 Apr 2023

L is for Little

Located at Pier 55 in Hudson River Park @W 13th St, New York, NY 10014
Website:  https://littleisland.org/

Little Island

Little Island is a new public park, jutting into the Hudson River, over what used to be piers 54 and 55. It is located within the larger Hudson River Park, which extends from Battery Park in the south to Pier 97 in the north. 

The park is held up by 132 funnel shaped structures called Tulips. These tulips vary in height, anywhere between 15 and 62 feet above the water.

The park opened to the public on May 21 2021. It has an area of 2.4 acres and is built on multiple levels. There are two walkway bridges connecting the island park to the Hudson River walkway on the mainland. (The word ‘mainland’ is used kinda loosely here as Manhattan itself is an island!)

There are several wonderful seating areas and lookout points throughout the park. If you can imagine the whole park in the rough shape of a bowl, at the rims will be the lookout points, with a lawn, lots of seating with umbrellas for sun protection, and children’s performance area in the center which is called ‘the play ground’. You will find food vendors in this area as well. 

You can walk up the various paths to get to the three overlooks with some of the best views in the city, of the neighborhood, downtown Manhattan and New Jersey.

To the southern end of the park is ‘the glade’ where small performances take place. Usually someone is reading to children sitting in close circles, with the parents a bit further on the benches. Various music, dance, poetry, and comedy shows take place here as well.

There is an amphitheater with facilities for professional performances in the park, called ‘the amph’. For these performances you will need advance tickets, which can be reserved online. If there is no performance taking place, this is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy the view.

Only working dogs that assist patrons with disabilities are allowed in the park. Pets and emotional support animals are not allowed as it is not conducive to the wellbeing of the garden beds and lawns.

Looking at the up and down terrain of the park it is hard to imagine, but the whole of Little Island is ADA compliant. 

The park is open to the public starting 6 am in the morning and closes at different hours, depending on the season, anywhere from 9 pm to 12 am.

There is a wide variety of trees and flowering plants growing all over the park. These are natives that thrive in the local conditions. These are maintained to suit the changing seasons. 

During the 19th and 20th centuries the Hudson River waterfront was a busy port of entry. Between 1910 and 1935, Pier 54 operated the British Cunard-White Star line, serving as a point of departure and return for trans-Atlantic ocean liner voyages. 

The pier then fell into disuse until the 1970s when it became the center of community activities in the area, especially for the city’s LGBTQ community. Starting in 1986, the annual Dance on the Pier event took place here for over 25 years.

In 2012, Pier 54 was heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy which hit the New York City coastline. Instead of building it back up, the idea of an alternative use for it was envisioned.

Little Island was planned, designed and built under a private-public partnership. While $260 million came from private contributions, the rest of the cost was borne by the city and state of New York.

The best time to visit Little Island is early morning, just as soon as it is open. There is absolute peace and quiet and you have the whole place to yourself. And after you have done with Little Island, it just a short walk to the High Line, which will take you to the Hudson yards. So much to see, so much to do!


In 1912, survivors from the Titanic disaster arrived to safety at Pier 54 where Little Island stands today, aboard the RMS Carpathia rescue liner.

14 Apr 2023