New York City History | Prospect Park

Designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmstead (designers of Central Park), Prospect Park is one of New York’s most beautiful recreational areas that also happens to feature historic landmark buildings and a turn-of-the-century carousel. To locals and visitors alike, Prospect Park is an urban oasis that offers a glimpse into a bygone era of quietude and elegant living.

Prospect Park History

After the completion of Central Park in 1858, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmstead were commissioned by city official James Stranahan to do the same for Brooklyn: create an urban green space where people could enjoy sunshine and clean air. The architects chose a historic land parcel that was once the site of the Battle of Long Island during the American Revolutionary War.

Image courtesy en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prospect_Park_(Brooklyn)
Image courtesy en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prospect_Park_(Brooklyn)

Another military conflict — the Civil War — delayed plans for construction, but the park was finally completed in 1867, with multiple later expansions that led to its present 585 acres. Other changes included the addition, during the 1890s, of several stunning neoclassical buildings designed by iconic architects such as Stanford White. These buildings are still open to the public today.

Making the Most of Your Visit to Prospect Park

Image courtesy nycgovparks.org/parks/prospect-park/photos
Image courtesy nycgovparks.org/parks/prospect-park/photos

As a testament to its enduring popularity, Prospect Park receives more than 10 million visitors every year. Here are some of the must-see attractions of this magnificent outdoor landmark:

The Boathouse

brownstoner.com/architecture/building-of-the-day-prospect-park-boathouse/
brownstoner.com/architecture/building-of-the-day-prospect-park-boathouse/

Constructed in 1905, the Boathouse is a neoclassical masterpiece that provides an elegant site for weddings and special events. It is also home to the famed Audubon Center, which houses a number of fascinating environmental exhibitions.

Nature Walks

As a migration epicenter for 100 species of birds, Prospect Park is a mecca for nature lovers. Favorite walks include the Vale of Cashmere, the Rose Garden and Nellie’s Lawn, where ground-feeding birds congregate in large numbers.

Prospect Park Wildlife Center and Zoo

Image courtesy prospectparkzoo.com/exhibits
Image courtesy prospectparkzoo.com/exhibits

Prospect Park’s Zoo and Wildlife Center is a sanctuary for hundreds of animals, all housed in their natural settings. The Zoo also hosts a number of family-friendly activities.

Greenmarket

Image courtesy inhabitat.com/nyc/grownyc-to-expand-composting-program-to-6-more-greenmarkets/grand-army-plaza-market-salim-virji/
Image courtesy inhabitat.com/nyc

Every Saturday morning, the Grand Army Plaza area of Prospect Park hosts a Greenmarket, which offers farm-fresh produce and special events year round.

Carousel

Image courtesy timeout.com/new-york-kids/attractions/prospect-park-carousel
Image courtesy timeout.com/new-york-kids/attractions/prospect-park-carousel

Built in 1912 by famed carver Charles Carmel, Prospect Park’s historic Carousel boasts 53 horses and is one of the park’s most popular attractions.

Outdoor Recreation

Prospect Park is the area’s major outdoor recreation center, with over a dozen playing fields, two regulation-size basketball courts, a turf football field, and areas for boating, fishing, horseback riding, cycling, hiking and picnicking.

With its historic buildings, recreational facilities and family-friendly activity centers, Prospect Park engages residents and visitors alike to enjoy Brooklyn at its finest.