Public parks are an essential part of life in urban areas. The Covid-19 pandemic illuminated just how important sites of nature, fresh air, and recreation are in crowded New York City. In Brooklyn, Prospect Park is often referred to as “Brooklyn’s backyard,” and the park has seen historic levels of usage in the past couple of years. This Chancellor’s Day, Brooklyn Public Library’s Center for Brooklyn History invites education professionals to experience the park’s history and natural splendor while reflecting on the ways Brooklyn’s backyard has evolved to meet the needs of a diverse public. First, we’ll hear from author Justin Martin, author of Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted, about the origins of the park and the ideals that inspired its designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Then, we’ll be joined by Cindy VandenBosch and Andrew Gustafson, President and Vice President of Turnstile Tours & Studio, who will lead attendees on a walking tour of some of Prospect Park’s fascinating landmarks and illuminate ways the park has changed since the time of Olmsted and Vaux. CBH educators will model lesson plans utilizing fascinating archival sources from our world-renowned collections. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of how public space changes over time, methods to incorporate primary source material into classroom settings, and the restorative feeling that comes with a day spent amongst the trees. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Proof of Covid-19 vaccination and face masks are required. Attendees are eligible for 5 Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) credits.
Join us for a special virtual tour in celebration of Frederick Law Olmsted’s 200th birthday that explores two of his New York City masterpieces—Central Park and Prospect Park. Built a decade apart, Central and Prospect Park share many similarities, but also reflect Olmsted’s evolution as a park designer and his lasting influence on landscape design and public space. Guides from Central Park Conservancy will be on site to highlight Central Park’s arches, meadows, and natural features, as Turnstile Tours guides examine parallel features in Prospect Park and compare and contrast the different elements of the parks, including examples of Olmsted designs that have been adapted to fit better with modern-day recreational uses and ecological practices.
- Olmsted 200 Events in Prospect Park
- Olmsted 200 Events in Central Park
- Olmsted 200 events across the US
- WATCH Restoring the Endale Arch
- Reimagining Prospect Park’s Vale
- Central Park’s Dene Slope
Celebrate Valentine’s Day as we share some of our favorite love stories from history from the places that we work. We will share long-distance love letters from World War II, milestone weddings in Prospect Park, workplace romances at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and people who found their loves in public markets. We will share artifacts, newspaper clippings, oral histories, and more from various archives, and we invite participants to share their own love stories and family histories in this Zoom meeting.
- Weddings in Prospect Park
- Brooklyn Navy Yard Oral History Collection (Center for Brooklyn History)
- Jennifer Egan, “Reading Lucy” in Brooklyn Was Mine
- “Navy Yard Visitors Share Memories and Mementos”
- “100 Years of Refuge at the Brooklyn Army Terminal”
- “RIP Essex Street Market Vendor Ron Budinas” (The Lo-Down)
- Jacques Torres Chocolate
- Uncommon Goods
Join the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House for a fascinating presentation by Justin Martin, author of Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted. Justin will highlight Olmsted’s travels to England while he lived at Tosomock Farm on Staten Island, and his subsequent writings about these travels. Olmsted departed from Staten Island for a walking tour of England in April 1850, returned in October, and both wrote (1851) and published (1852) his observations in Walks and Talks of an American farmer in England while on Staten Island. Justin will discuss how these travels influenced Olmsted’s social thinking and landscape designs.
Concrete is the world’s most ubiquitous building material, and many important milestones of its development took place in Brooklyn. In this virtual program, we will examine concrete’s history, production, and chemistry, then discuss some of the landmark structures that drove the development of steel-reinforced concrete in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From Gowanus to DUMBO, Prospect Park to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we will look at monumental buildings and small details designed by some renowned architects, including Cass Gilbert, Albert Kahn, and Calvert Vaux.
- John C. Goodridge (1874) Beton-Coignet: A Description of the Material and its Uses in France and America
- Histoire de la maison Coignet (1900)
- Turner Construction (1919) A Record of War Activities
- “Pouring Concrete: The Brooklyn Navy Yard Prepares for War”
- Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation
- “Alternative materials could shrink concrete’s giant carbon footprint” (Chemical & Engineering News)
Though often overlooked due to his association with Frederick Law Olmsted, Calvert Vaux is an important figure in American architecture in his own right. A classically-trained architect, talented artist, and collaborator with landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing, he had already done major projects before working with Olmsted on Central Park, and would continue to design parks and public buildings after their partnership dissolved. To mark Vaux’ 197th birthday, we will examine his 40-year career in New York City, his distinctive architectural style, and his legacy of designing buildings and landscapes for the public good, including museums, parks both large and small, and housing for the poor.
- Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance
- Olana State Historic Site
- Prospect Park Alliance
- Calvert Vaux (1857) Villas and Cottages (Open Library)
- “Sketches from Prospect Park, Brooklyn,” Manufacturer and Builder, May 1870
- Andrew Jackson Downing, “A Talk about Public Parks and Gardens,” The Horticulturist, Oct 1848
- Francis R. Kowsky (2003) Country, Park, & City: The Architecture and Life of Calvert Vaux
- WATCH: Restoring the Concert Grove Pavilion
This program has been postponed. Please stay tuned for a new date in 2022.
There is a new, colorful, monumental artwork in Prospect Park—We Are At a Moment That Will Be Remembered as the Beginning of the Great Change, For Who Can Say When a Wall Is Ready To Come Down by Emily Oliveira now fills the Lena Horne Bandshell. Commissioned by BRIC and Prospect Park Alliance, in partnership with NYC Parks, the mural depicts figures working collectively to dismantle a wall, framed by swirling cosmos. In this virtual program, we will join Emily from her studio in New Haven, as well as BRIC Curator Jenny Gerow, as they discuss her work, her creative process, and the art and artists that inspired this piece, including Mexican muralism—particularly José Clemente Orozco’s Prometheus—science fiction, and the murals of the Works Progress Administration, which built the Bandshell in 1941. The virtual program is presented with support from BRIC and Prospect Park Alliance.
Join Turnstile Tours and the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House for a virtual panel discussion to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Frederick Law Olmsted’s report for the Staten Island Improvement Commission, a comprehensive plan for the island’s growth and development. We will hear unique perspectives about Staten Island in the late 1800s, Olmsted’s public health recommendations, and his legacy in the greenest borough of New York City. The panel will include Prof. Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, Director of Graduate Landscape Architecture Program at City College’s Spitzer School of Architecture; Jessica Kratz of the Staten Island Greenbelt Nature Center; naturalist Ed Johnson, emeritus curator of science at the Staten Island Museum; and moderated by Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours.
Join the conversation during Climate Week NYC with Prospect Park Alliance‘s Forest Ecologist Howard Goldstein. Howard will share insights on the unique challenges the part faces as the borough’s only forest, and what impact climate change is having the composition of the forest, the biodiversity that it supports, and the pests that threaten its health in the short- and long-term future.
- Prospect Park TreeKeeper Database
- Natural Areas Conservancy
- Report invasive species – NY iMap Invasives
- “A Plan for New York City’s Forests” (New York Times, 2018)
To celebrate Brooklyn Battle Week, take a virtual walk through Prospect Park and follow the battle lines of the largest engagement of the Revolutionary War. We will see see where American forces tried unsuccessfully to stop the British advance at Battle Pass, follow the path some used to escape to join the main battle in Gowanus, and visit the many Revolutionary War monuments in the park, including Daniel Chester French’s sculpture to the Marquis de Lafayette and Stanford White’s memorial to the 1st Maryland Regiment.
- Old Stone House – Brooklyn Battle Week Events
- Old Stone House Battle of Brooklyn Walking Guide
- Henry P. Johnston (1878) Plan of the Battle of Long Island and of the Brooklyn Defences
- George S. Sproule (1781) A Plan of the Environs of Brooklyn Showing the Position of the Rebel Lines and Defences
- Green-Wood Cemetery