A Park in Need
Many of our friends and neighbors may not remember that Prospect Park wasn’t exactly the safest, nicest place to be in the 1970s. It had suffered decades of the neglect, and many of its natural wonders and manmade structures were severely deteriorating. Often neighborhood residents wouldn’t even brave the Park without bringing their dog!
Upper Fallkill 1996 Renovation
In 1987, concerned members of the community came together with the City of New York and the Parks Department to create a nonprofit organization that would clean up and restore the Park. The new Prospect Park Alliance would supplement the Park’s basic operating budget and provide extra manpower to oversee projects. Today, the Alliance actually provides two-thirds of the Park’s daily operating budget.
Upper Fallkill Today
What We Do
The Alliance has undertaken a number of projects to bring back the Park’s natural beauty, restore the original vision of designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, and engage Brooklyn’s diverse communities. Here are just a few of our past and ongoing initiatives:
Restoring the Carousel The Alliance’s first project was to restore the Park’s 1912 Carousel, which had been closed due to disrepair. The successful restoration in 1991 became a symbol of the Park’s rebirth and showed that the Alliance was more than up to the task of embarking upon larger restoration projects.
Saving Brooklyn’s Only Forest Over eight years, the Alliance restored 150 acres of the woodlands and watercourse in the Park’s Ravine. This included digging out pools that had silted in, reconstructing waterfalls, replanting thousands of trees and shrubs, and rebuilding rustic bridges and shelters from the Park’s original design.
Places for Play The Alliance has overseen the renovation and careful daily maintenance of all seven playgrounds, including water play features, sandboxes, and play structures.
Urban Nature Center In 2002, the Alliance partnered with the National Audubon Society to open the nation’s first urban Audubon Center in the newly restored Boathouse, one of New York City’s first designated historic landmarks.
Lakeside The Alliance’s current and most ambitious project will restore 26 acres of parkland, including the original Music Island, Esplanade, and Concert Grove, and create a new, year-round LEED-certified facility with ice skating and hockey in the fall/winter and roller skating and a water playground in spring/summer. Lakeside is scheduled for completion in fall 2013.
Music Island Beneath Wollman Rink
Music Island Today
Community Traditions The Alliance has cosponsored long-standing Park traditions, including the Halloween Haunted Walk, Fireworks on New Year’s Eve, Macy’s fishing events, and the New York Philharmonic’s summer concert.
Volunteer Program The Alliance oversees a substantial volunteer program that helps bring in community members and corporate partners to help hands-on in the Park. Each year, close to 4,000 volunteers give approximately 24,000 hours of their time. Last year, volunteers planted over 7,000 plants, collected more than 3,800 bags of leaves and debris, and raked 215,000 square feet of paths.
Environmental Education Since 2003, the Alliance has partnered with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Department of Education to operate the Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment (BASE). BASE uses field study in the Park to supplement classroom teaching about science, nature, and the environment.
Parade Ground and Tennis Center The Alliance brought about a $20 million redevelopment of the 40-acre Parade Ground and construction of a brand new year-round Tennis Center which opened in 2006.
Over the years, we’ve worked hard to make sure that the Park does what it was designed to do: welcome all of Brooklyn—for walks, bike rides, sports, birding, dog walking, picnics, lazy afternoons, and so much more. And since Park visits have increased from just 2 million a year in 1987 to over 10 million today, we hope that our work has helped make a difference!
As we continue to work with community partners, the Parks Department, and the City to protect the Park’s fragile ecosystem, preserve its historic and architectural treasures, and keep up the daily maintenance of its ballfields and playgrounds, we look forward to another 25 years of making sure Prospect Park is a wonderful oasis in the city for everyone.
Be a part of the Alliance that restores and cares for your favorite Park! Join now.
Entering the Long Meadow and Escaping the City