Although it was considered by many to be an unwelcome intrusion into the Park’s pastoral beauty, the Kate Wollman Rink was a source of enjoyment for millions of Park goers who enjoyed ice skating and pedal boating. It was added to the Park during the reign of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, who was responsible for many of the Park’s features that were not included in the original design, such as its Playgrounds and Bandshell. The Rink, opened in 1961, was named after Kate Wollman, whose family helped fund its construction.
In the original design of the Park, the pioneering landscape architecture team of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux wanted to include a formal space for open-air musical concerts. At the center was Music Island, which was where the Rink now stands. Music Island was a small islet with a stage facing the Concert Grove across a narrow channel of water. Thousands of concert goers would attend Saturday afternoon concerts. Performers included the Thirteenth Regiment Band (1896) and a brass band conducted by the world renowned bandleader Edwin Franko Goldman, whose concert series thrived for four decades.
Now, the area where Wollman Rink previously stood has been transformed into Lakeside, the largest and most ambitious project in Prospect Park since its completion nearly 150 years ago. Spanning more than 26 acres, this $74 million restoration and redesign features the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center as well as the Shelby White and Leon Levy Esplanade. The esplanade provides walkways and picnic areas with an open view of the recreated Chaim Baier Music Island and lake.
See Lakeside today >