Prospect Park’s watercourse features diverse bodies of water all connected through an intricate system of pools, streams, and waterfalls, and culminating in the 60-acre Lake - the only freshwater lake in Brooklyn. After seeing the Ravine’s windy path through a forested gorge, or the Lake’s undulating shoreline, you’ll be amazed to learn that every one of the Park’s water features is man-made.
Prospect Park’s landscape designers, Olmsted and Vaux, wanted to mirror as closely as possible the natural tendencies of water. Inspired by the pristine mountain streams and pools of the Adirondack Mountains, they transformed a small kettle pond into a series of pools, and farmland into a lake. They also used the natural hilliness of the terrain to create a mountain gorge through which a winding stream could meander, feeding into the Lullwater, and then into the Lake.
Although the watercourse was man-made, it has provided a dynamic ecological habitat. Due to a century of use, however, the watercourse had deteriorated from Olmsted and Vaux’s original conception. The steep slopes of the Ravine became eroded and sank into the Lullwater, clogging waterways further downstream. The Pools and Lakeshore became overrun with invasive phragmites, an opportunistic reed that creates swampy conditions and crowds out other plants which provide nourishment to wildlife.
Recent and current restorations aim to combat these challenges to the Park’s watercourse. In 1994, the Prospect Park Alliance launched a $43 million, 25-year restoration project for the Park's woodlands and watercourse.