Park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux envisioned the Long Meadow as "a broad stretch of slightly undulating meadow without defined edges, itself lost in a maze of shadows of scattered trees." They wanted the Long Meadow to be a more natural outdoor space, as opposed to the artificially delineated spaces of their previous work, Central Park. Ironically, however, a great deal of construction was necessary to create the appearance of a "natural" meadow. Woods were thinned out in some places and transplanted in others. Large quantities of earth were moved around to fill in the swampy peat bog that occupied the area and create the tree-covered embankments that make the space seem like a continuous unfolding of pastoral scenery.
The green expanse attracted not only strollers and picnickers but devotees of lawn tennis and croquet. In 1959, amidst concerns over inadequate recreational opportunities for the young people of Brooklyn, the Long Meadow Ballfields were constructed in the Meadow’s southernmost section. At the time, there was some controversy, as many local residents believed the chain-link fences and bulky bleachers of the ballfields would undermine the original purpose of the Park designers. The fence and bleachers were relocated in the 1980s in an attempt to better integrate the ballfields into the fluidity of the Long Meadow, and now the ballfields play a crucial role in the community.
In 1995, the Long Meadow received a $200,000 renovation of its paths. The north end of the Long Meadow between the Meadowport and Endale Arches became the site of a 9/11 Commemorative Grove in 2002. Through the Prospect Park Alliance’s Commemorative Tree Program, more trees are constantly being planted throughout the Long Meadow, restoring its original design, some of which was lost over the years.
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