Prospect Park, Brooklyn NY #00509
Type:Parks, Parkways & Recreation Areas
One of Olmsted and Vaux’s earliest assignments, the development of Prospect Park was among the pair’s most involved yet gratifying projects. While acting as lead landscape architects for Central Park, Vaux convinced Olmsted to join him in designing the preliminary proposals for Prospect Park.
One of Olmsted and Vaux’s earliest assignments, the development of Prospect Park was among the pair’s most involved yet gratifying projects. While acting as lead landscape architects for Central Park, Vaux convinced Olmsted to join him in designing the preliminary proposals for Prospect Park. Having received approval to expand the park’s boundaries, their 1867 report to the Board of Commissioners highlights their shared goal of ensuring unimpeded access to urban green space. Urging the commissioners to reevaluate their street system in the upcoming years, they wrote “It would undoubtedly add much to the value of the Park if it could be reached, by citizens living at a distance, through liberally conceived approaches, which were, in all their extent, convenient and pleasant to walk, ride or drive in.”
Despite delays in construction brought on by allegations of theft from Egbert Viele, the landscape architect who failed to receive the Central Park commission, the design progressed and park visitation doubled by 1872. Plans show the 650-acre park was divided into several sections, each designed with their own unique aesthetic and purpose. The largest and most open area in the park, referred to as The Long Meadow, was designed in a pastoral and picturesque style, with plantings “to consist mainly of detached groups of large deciduous trees and… to be backed by a closer and more forest-like plantation of evergreen & deciduous trees & underwood.” Other major sections included The Ravine, The Nethermead, The Woods, The Plaza, and Parade Ground.
Prospect Park has undergone many alterations over the past century, and has been modified by McKim, Mead & White, as well as Robert Moses. Starting in 1987 there has been a concerted effort by the Prospect Park Alliance to maintain, restore and recapture the intent of much of the historic design as well as engage the diverse surrounding communities in the use and enjoyment of the park [OV&Co. to Board of Commissioners of Prospect Park_1867_FLO Papers-v.6-p.157]
[FLO to OCBullard_1871_FLO Papers-v.6-p.460]