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
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.
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 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
Built in 1874, the Concert Grove Pavilion is a stunning example of Prospect Park co-designer Calvert Vaux’ colorful and decorative style. Earlier this year, the Prospect Park Alliance completed a $2 million restoration of the pavilion, which was last restored in 1988. Joined by Prospect Park Alliance Assistant Architect Sheena Enriquez, we will look closely at the pavilion’s beautiful details, including its cast iron columns that contain motifs borrowed from Hindu, Chinese, Moorish, and Egyptian architecture, its elaborate roof finials and eaves, and its newly-illuminated stained glass ceiling. Sheena will share how the restoration team did extensive archival research, conducted color testing to match the pavilion’s original design, and repaired and recreated damaged or missing pieces.
- WATCH Restoring the Endale Arch
- “Return to Splendor” (Architectural Record)
- Become a Prospect Park Alliance member
Did you know that Prospect Park has a piece of Gettysburg’s famed Little Round Top? And one of the oldest statues of Abraham Lincoln in America? While memorials to the Civil War are prominent features of the park, the war itself also shaped its design. Co-designer Frederick Law Olmsted spent the war directing the US Sanitary Commission, which provided medical care to the Union Army, and that experience influenced his ideas on public space and public health. On this virtual tour, we will explore the park’s many Civil War connections, from Grand Army Plaza to the Parade Ground.
- WATCH Exploring Staten Island’s Olmsted-Beil House
- WATCH Progressivism and Purified Air: Frederick Law Olmsted’s Living Machines
- Olmsted’s report on the Battle of Bull Run (NIH)
- Olmsted, Hospital Transports: a Memoir of the Embarkation of the Sick and Wounded from the Peninsula of Virginia in the summer of 1862
- “Frederick Law Olmsted’s War on Disease and Disunity” (The New Yorker)
- “In Brooklyn, Grand Army Plaza Gets an Intervention” (New York Times)
- “Anna Hyatt Huntington and Equestrian Lincoln” (Columbia University Libraries)
Join us for a special panel discussion and virtual tour of Staten Island’s landmark Olmsted-Beil House, an historic farmhouse and museum where landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted began his monumental career. While Central Park, Prospect Park, and countless other parks across America display Olmsted’s genius, beginning in 1848, this farmstead is where he developed his professional interest in landscape design. Here he learned horticulture, experimented with different plants and landscape forms, and wrote about his travels to public parks in Europe. On this program, we will explore the property grounds with historian and Friends of the Olmsted-Beil House board member Patricia Salmon, and we will be joined by Justin Martin, author of Olmsted biography Genius of Place.