Prospect Park in Brooklyn is an urban oasis covering 585 acres in the middle of New York City’s most populous borough. A 60-acre lake, 90-acre meadow, forest, and Children’s corner with an historic carousel and Prospect Park Zoo attract over seven million locals and tourists to the park every year. The Grand Army Plaza, at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue, Eastern Parkway, and Prospect Park West, and a National Historic Landmark since 1975, serves as the main entryway to the park. John Duncan, the designer of Grant’s Tomb, created the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch. The arch, which was completed in 1892, commemorates the Union war heroes of the Civil War.
Sculptures on and around the arch were created by Frederick MacMonnies to depict Civil War battle scenes.MacMonnies also sculpted the statue of James S. T. Stranahan that overlooks Grand Army Plaza. Stranahan—who served as Parks Commission board president for 22 years—was know as “the Father of Prospect Park”. Prospect park was designed by NY’s Central Park landscape architects Olmsted and Vaux.
Bailey Fountain, the fourth fountain to have occupied the site, was built in 1932. It features a group of mythical features, including Neptune, the god of the sea. The fountain was funded by Brooklyn financier and philanthropist Frank Bailey as a memorial to his wife, Mary Louise Bailey. The 90-acre Long Meadow was created as a natural outdoor space. Stretching nearly a mile from the northern end of the park at Grand Army Plaza to the western end, the Long Meadow is believed to be the longest unbroken meadow in any park in the U.S. and is the perfect place to relax or picnic. The Band shell was built in 1939 and is a popular site for outdoor concerts and performances. With a 21-foot-high and 50-foot-wide movie screen, it is one of the largest outdoor cinemas in the world.
Prospect Park’s magnificent watercourse includes a stream, pools, a waterfall and a 60-acre Lake. This man-made watercourse runs through the 143-acre Ravine, which features the park’s most rugged terrain. The nearby Nethermead is a rolling meadow surrounded by water, trees, and hills. Built in 1960, Wollman Rink serves as an ice skating rink in the winter and provides pedal boats in the summer.
The Beaux Arts style Boathouse at the eastern edge of the Lullwater was built in 1905 and designed by Frank J. Helmle and Ulrich Huberty. After undergoing a complete renovation, the Boathouse was reopened in 2002 as the site of the nation’s first urban Audubon Center. The Audubon Center is dedicated to wildlife preservation and education and also houses the Park’s Visitor Center. Here, visitors can board the Independence, an electric boat, for a tour of the winding Lullwater waterway and the Lake. The 25-minute cruises depart every half hour.
The stone and cast iron Lullwater Bridge replaced an older oak bridge and is just one of many picturesque bridges in Prospect Park. A small viewing platform diagonal from the boathouse also provides a view of Binnen Bridge and Binnen Falls. The water coming over the falls began at the Upper and Lower Pools at the southern edge of the Long Meadow, passed under a couple of other bridges and traveled through a ravine before entering the Lullwater.
In the Children’s Corner is the Lefferts Historic House, the century old Carousel and the Prospect Park Zoo. The Lefferts Historic House, originally built by a Dutch family in 18th-century Flatbush, offers a hands-on learning experience. Children can participate in craft activities and play with traditional tools and toys. The Lefferts family donated the house to the city in 1918, when it was moved from its original location near Flatbush Avenue and Maple Street to its present location in the park. Many of the activities at the museum are based on the diary of the family’s ancestor, Gertrude Lefferts.
The Prospect Park Carousel was carved in 1912 by carousel designer Charles Carmel. This beautiful Carousel offers a variety of animals to ride, including 51 horses, a giraffe, a lion, a deer and two chariots. Originally located in Coney Island, the carousel was moved to Prospect Park in 1952. Due to deterioration, the carousel closed in 1983. The Prospect Park Alliance restored the carousel to its former glory and reopened it in 1990. The current Prospect Park Zoo, operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society, opened in 1993.
The zoo began as a small menagerie in the late 1800’s and grew to become the Prospect Park Zoo in 1935. In the early 1980s the Wildlife Conservation Society, with the City of New York/Parks and Recreation, overtook the renovation and management of the zoo, replacing the obsolete and inhumane bars and cages with naturalistic habitats. A Prospect Park Carousel ride, Independence Electric Boat tour, entrance to the Prospect Park Zoo and picnic lunch from the Prospect Park Lakeside Snack Bar are just a few of many included attractions, museums and tours when you purchase the New York Pass.