The Prospect Park Bandshell was designed by the prominent architect Aymar Embury II (1880-1966), who also designed the Prospect Park Zoo. The Bandshell was constructed under Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981), whose recreational additions to the park included the Zoo, the Wollman Rink, and a number of the Park’s perimeter playgrounds.
The site of the Bandshell was once part of the estate of the influential land and railroad developer Edwin Clarke Litchfield, who built the nearby Litchfield Villa in 1857. The land was originally designated a zoological site by Olmsted and Vaux. Instead, it served as an archery and hockey field until the construction of the Bandshell in 1939. In the nineteen-forties and fifties large crowds came nightly to the Prospect Park Dance Area, as it was also known, drawn by well-known orchestras and bandleaders. In 1944 citywide contests were held featuring the waltz, foxtrot, rumba and jitterbug, with war bonds going to the winner.
The Bandshell was renovated in 1983 in response to the success of the four-year-old Celebrate Brooklyn! Performing Arts Festival. In 1998, the bandshell again received major improvements with $3 million in funding from Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden.
Designed and managed by the Prospect Park Alliance, this project dismantled three towers which caused sound problems; renovated the backstage areas; expanded public restrooms; re-graded the site for better viewing and drainage; added a new stage roof that facilitates rigging, lighting and projection for film and dance programs, and allows performances to go forward in inclement weather; and added a new "distributed" sound system, which provides excellent sound quality while tightly directing sound at the audience and away from other areas.
Click here to see the Bandshell today.