Alliance Restores Northeast Paths

November 10, 2021

Through $2 million in funding by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Prospect Park Alliance has completed the restoration of the pedestrian paths in the northeast corner of Prospect Park to make the area more accessible to the communities who use the park. The project kicked off in the summer of 2020 and wrapped up in August 2021.

“This project replaces broken and inaccessible pavement that’s been in poor condition for more than half a century as layers upon layers of asphalt have continued to erode,” said Svetlana Ragulina, Prospect Park Alliance Senior Landscape Architect. “Now visitors of all abilities will be able to more easily navigate the area and experience it for longer periods each day thanks to the newly installed lighting and benches.”

This project included the following:

  • The reconstruction of approximately 2,500 linear feet of paths, with new asphalt paving and traditional hex block pavers between Grand Army Plaza and the newly restored Endale Arch.
  • Installation of 15 new park benches and lighting along the paths through the addition of 60 light poles.
  • Much-needed tree care, seeding and new plantings to restore the natural areas.
  • Replacement of the play sand in the beloved Zucker Natural Exploration Area.
  • Clearing and reconstruction of 19 catch basins, which will help with drainage in heavy rain events.

The newly restored paths connect major points of interest in the northeast, including Grand Army Plaza, Endale Arch, the Park Drive, Vale of Cashmere, the Zucker Natural Exploration area, the Rose Garden and the new park entrances at Flatbush Avenue.

Learn more about park projects on our Captial Projects Tracker.

c. Steve Nanz

Birdwatching in Prospect Park

October 12, 2021

A key focus of the non-profit Prospect Park Alliance’s mission is to sustain and restore the park’s natural areas, including Brooklyn’s last remaining forest and only Lake, which suffered from significant erosion and neglect prior to the Alliance’s founding. Keeping the park green and vibrant is important to both humans and birds alike. During the fall migration, one of the peak birdwatching times of year, we sat down to talk to Alliance EcoZone Gardener and avid birder Peter Dorosh, recognizing the park’s important role as a haven for more than 200 species of birds.

“The most exciting season for birdwatching is now and in the spring, the biannual migrations when birds travel to and from their breeding grounds throughout North America,” Dorosh said. When asked why Brooklyn’s Backyard is a great place for birdwatching, he said: “Because it’s a contained green space surrounded by urban dwellings, birds migrating see a dark spot during their migratory travels at night (recognizing it as a green space), and come down from flight for shelter and food.”

The Alliance’s landscape management team, which includes gardeners, a forester and also a forest ecologist, focuses on sustaining our natural areas with native plantings that are specifically geared to providing food and shelter for birds and other wildlife.

Prospect Park takes on even more importance for birds in light of a recent study that found steep, long-term losses across virtually all groups of birds in the U.S. and Canada. How to nurture birds in Brooklyn’s Backyard? Please sustain our woodlands by staying on path, and not climbing or hanging structures on our trees. Have a dog?  Please keep your pet on leash, and on path, in woodland areas. Dorosh explained that birds, whether they are nesting, breeding or migrating, see dogs as a threat. “Most particularly during nesting season, the parent birds get unnecessarily stressed and hyper-vigilant in trying to protect their young even if the nest is high above.” Even if birds are not directly attacked by dogs, just the sight of dogs can send birds into a panic, causing unnecessary stress during this critical time in their survival.

To learn more about birdwatching, connect with our partners at the Brooklyn Bird Club. They offer free, year-round programming to novices and avid birdwatchers alike. Find out more about bird watching in Prospect Park on our website.

Help spread the word about good park stewardship: Dogs are allowed off leash in the park from 6 am to 9 am and 9 pm to 1 am on the Long Meadow (not ballfields), Nethermead, and the Peninsula Meadow. At all other times and locations, dogs should be on their leashes. Birds and park wildlife will thank you!

c. Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Reimagining a Historic House: A Community Conversation

Prospect Park Alliance hosted a Community Conversation with Meredith Sorin-Horsford, Director of the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, as part of its Re-Imagine Lefferts Historic House initiative to re-envision the mission and programming of this historic house museum while it undergoes restoration, recognize the role the house played as a site of slavery, and tell the stories of enslaved Africans and Native Americans who lived and worked the land.

In the lead up to the event, we asked Meredith a few questions about Dyckman DISCOVERED and her team’s approach to sensitive historical research.

Can you tell us a bit about your Dyckman DISCOVERED  Initiative?
The Dyckman DISCOVERED initiative investigates the stories of the enslaved and free people that lived and worked on the Dyckman Farm and the community that is now called Inwood in Upper Manhattan. This initiative brings an inclusive history to the community, fosters a sense of transparency and, we hope, engages visitors who have not seen themselves represented in the current narrative.

Where did you find information about the enslaved Africans and others who lived and worked the land apart from the Dyckman family?
We utilized the Dyckman papers at the New-York Historical Society as well as runaway slave ads, bills of sale and papers that relate to families that the Dyckmans did business with.

If you don’t have a lot of information about an enslaved person who lived in the house, how do you give visitors a sense of their lives?
Every piece of information that we find gives us an inkling into their lives, the languages they spoke, the skills they possessed, the food they ate, the spaces they would have occupied, etc. Additionally, information about the lives of enslaved people in the region might also help us to learn more about their lives.

How did you engage your community in your project?
We held community conversations during which we talked about the research that we found and used that as an opportunity to find out more from our neighbors about what they would like to learn more about. We have also held numerous public programs that relate to the Dyckman DISCOVERED initiative, including a lecture series and site-specific contemporary art installations.

Why is it important to preserve authentic and meaningful documents, artifacts, images, stories and places?
Authentic historic documents, images, stories, and places are so important to preserve because they tell us where we have been and how we ended up where we are now. Utilizing historic artifacts and stories are also a great way to engage our present-day community in conversation about the past and how it is connected with the present.

What kinds of programs help participants to see how their experiences in life are related to the interpretation of slavery?
I think that our lecture series, Talking About Race Matters: Join the Conversation, illustrates this best. This series, which we have hosted three times since August 2020, features professionals in the fields of history, archeology, anthropology, Africana and Latinx studies, women and gender studies, music and dance to talk about race from different perspectives. Through these community conversations, attendees are able to learn about, discuss, and ask questions about how the institution of slavery has shaped the history of this nation and the evolution of who and where we are today.

For those who couldn’t make it to the community conversation, the Alliance created a form where you can respond to the questions that were raised to our audience, and we encourage you to share your feedback. We do plan future community conversations in the coming months, and hope that you can join this continued dialogue.

The restoration of Lefferts Historic House is made possible through $2.5 million in funding from the Brooklyn Delegation of the New York City Council, and includes replacing the roof, restoring the exterior of the building, and repairing paths and drainage surrounding the house. The restoration is currently underway, and slated to be completed in 2022.

Learn more about Lefferts Historic House.

Catching Up with the Re:New Initiative

Back in May, Prospect Park Alliance launched Re:New Prospect Park, a new stewardship effort to help serve our community. The initiative was created to meet the challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic—the Alliance and NYC Parks staff have struggled with budget cuts, coupled with a swell of park visitors. Thankfully, our community has stepped up to help in many ways, and there have already been many exciting achievements from the Re:New Prospect Park initiative.

Critical support for this initiative is made possible through generous funding from Amazon, the Leon Levy Foundation, NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in the New York Community Trust, NYC Green Relief + Recovery Fund, and many generous individuals and community members who made first-time or increased gifts to the Alliance during this challenging time.

Here are some of the highlights:

Park Improvements

The Alliance set out to re-invest in park places, spaces, and amenities, and there have been great improvements in all areas of the park. The Lincoln Road comfort station has received a complete makeover, new barbecues, furnishings and fixtures were installed at the popular Picnic House and Bandshell barbecue areas, new benches have been added to the beloved Drummer’s Grove, and broken ornamental brickwork at the historic Boathouse terrance has been repaired.

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The improved Lincoln Road Comfort Station and the new audience benches at the Drummer’s Grove.

Re:New Volunteer Corps

As part of the Re:New Initiative, a dedicated volunteer corps is focused on fixing areas of the park that have seen great wear and tear. On a weekly basis, these volunteers have showed up in the park to repair holes in the meadows, repaint park benches and fences, clean playgrounds and replenish their sandboxes, weed overgrown areascover unsightly graffiti and much more. This work could not have been more successful, among other accomplishments, volunteers painted 118 benches, removed 230 bags of invasive weeds, refilled sandboxes, mulched trails and tree beds, and filled hundreds of dog holes in our meadows.

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Members of the Re:New Volunteer Corps working to improve the park.

The Re:New Volunteer Corps has many more opportunities coming up, sign up today to lend a hand in Prospect Park!

Park Maintenance

Prospect Park Alliance has partnered with Ace New York, a non-profit that empowers the homeless, to provide additional maintenance resources to help clean the park on peak weekdays and weekend evenings through October. The crew, which is partially funded via a grant from Amazon, has been in the park since April, and will wrap up their time with the park at the end of October.

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The ACE Crew in Prospect Park.

Interested in getting involved with the Re:New Prospect Park initiative? Learn more about the ways you can contribute. 

FURI Sport’s Prospect Park Origins

September 29, 2021

Erick Mathelier, co-founder of tennis equipment brand FURI Sport, has a long history with the Prospect Park Tennis Center—he started playing on the courts at age 10. We spoke to Mathelier about his Brooklyn tennis roots, how his love of the game inspired him to start a company, and his reconnection with the Prospect Park Tennis Center. 

What is your background with the Prospect Park Tennis Center?
My first experience with the Prospect Park Tennis Center was at the age of 10, when I took my first tennis lesson and fell in love with the sport. I would take lessons there every Saturday. I didn’t realize it then, but Prospect Park Tennis Center was a magical place, at a time in my life that was integral to my development as a human being. For those five years that I played and took tennis lessons there, it served as my second home. I have nothing but fond memories of hanging out in the clubhouse all day, trying to play tennis whenever there was an open court; the lifelong friendships I made; the different types of personalities I interacted with. Prospect Tennis Center opened my eyes to a world I didn’t know existed, and I will be forever grateful for this time in my life. 

Tell us a little about FURI Sport and why you started it.
My business partner and I passionately believe that tennis has a diverse, rich culture. All different races love to play—at Prospect Park Tennis Center, you have a diverse clientele of players, but the public perception of the sport doesn’t reflect that diversity. FURI Sport was founded in 2016 to change this. We want to redefine tennis for the modern player, with a focus on value, inclusivity, and community. This means our equipment combines the most advanced technology with fair pricing; apparel that takes you from the court to the street; and through partnerships with nonprofits, we’re supporting the game at a grass-roots level in some of the most needy neighborhoods.

For me, the opportunity to work/collaborate with the Prospect Park Tennis Center is like coming home. I believe there’s a lot of alignment, so I’m excited about what’s in store for us in the future.

Stay tuned for more about FURI Sport at the Prospect Park Tennis Center, and learn more about tennis in Prospect Park.

 

Woodlands Youth Crew Completes New Park Trail

September 10, 2021

Visiting the park this fall, you may notice a scenic addition in the heart of our woodlands—a rustic trail just off Center Drive that invites visitors to slow their pace and meander into parts unknown. 

The work to restore this woodland area and create a new trail was work of the 2021 summer cohort of the Prospect Park Alliance Woodlands Youth Crew, one of our signature youth employment programs that provides local teens with employment, training, mentorship and professional experience in environmental conservation and park stewardship. The program was funded this summer through the generous support of NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, whose longstanding partnership with the Alliance and essential work during the pandemic will be honored on September 30 at the Prospect Park Alliance Gala.

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Picturedat top, Paul Lubrun and Kayla Green; above left, Phil Lubrun, right, Jeshua Figueroa and Paul Lubrun.

The work of the Woodlands Youth Crew is an essential part of the Alliance’s work to restore and sustain Brooklyn’s last remaining forest. The semicircular route created this summer by the crew features a never-before-seen view of the top of the Lullwater, previously inaccessible to park visitors. “This area was a complete vine-land, with invasive plants everywhere—you couldn’t see the water at all,” says Kate Abrams, the Alliance Woodlands Youth Crew Manager. “But there is also so much good stuff in here, witch hazels, red maples, oaks and sumacs, and the idea of the trail just came together.” 

On a recent summer afternoon, the crew members were proud to point out the work they had done to transform this part of the park. Heaping compost piles were a testament to the volume of invasive vines that the crew had removed, and mulched paths with cedar railings were getting their finishing touches. “We’ve been getting lots of passersby saying thank you,” says Philip Lubrun, a crew member since 2016 who is now back for his second year as a supervisor. “This was my first job, and it comes naturally to me now. I’ve learned about planting, carpentry, invasive removal—it’s opened up a lot of opportunities for me…this is not the type of job you find everywhere.” 

“This is a great crew and the teamwork over time is the best thing to see,” says Abrams, “hopefully this path opens up possibilities for this area—people already seem to really appreciate it and the kids are really proud of what they’ve done.”

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A peek at the new trail, off Center Drive in Prospect Park.

Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s Woodlands Youth Crew.

c. Frederick Charles

Prospect Park’s NYC Climate Week 2021 Events

The effects of climate change are being felt near and far, including in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. During NYC Climate Week, September 20-26, join Prospect Park Alliance for virtual and in-person events to learn more and lend a hand in Brooklyn’s Backyard:

c. Elizabeth Keegin Colley

The Last Stand: An Experimental Opera for Trees

August 12, 2021

Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks Art in the Parks is partnering with Creative Time to present artist Kamala Sankaram’s first public artwork, The Last Stand, in Brooklyn’s Backyard.

On view September 18–October 10, this public sound installation and experimental opera for and about trees invites audiences to consider the complex and expansive life cycle of one of our most vital natural resources. 

Prospect Park is home to Brooklyn’s last remaining forest with more than 30,000 trees and many species of native flora that are an integral habitat to the hundreds of species of birds and wildlife.

“Since our founding in 1987, Prospect Park Alliance has played a critical role in revitalizing the park’s 250 acres of core woodlands,” said Sue Donoghue, President of Prospect Park Alliance and Park Administrator. “The park’s 30,000 trees are the ‘lungs’ of Brooklyn and are vital to our community’s health and well-being. We are so pleased to be hosting The Last Stand, and drawing attention to the importance of trees to our environment and future.”

The Last Stand chronicles the lifespan of a 300-year-old Northern Red Oak—the “Mother Tree”—from the years 1750–2050. The rich soundscape tells the story of the Mother Tree in Black Rock Forest, a nearly 4,000-acre diverse ecosystem in upstate New York with tree species tracing back 14,000 years. Sankaram personally created field recordings of the environment to develop sounds for the installation, which will be experienced through rhythms, looped sounds, and the physical vibrations they generate.

“In the wake of this year’s catastrophic heat, storms, and floods, the immediacy of the climate emergency has only become clearer. We can no longer hold ourselves separate from the world around us. Rather, to stave off the most devastating effects of climate change, we must recognize the interconnectedness of humankind with our delicate world and all the living beings that inhabit it. It is my hope that by allowing ourselves to try and step inside the perspective of a tree, to experience its different intelligence and sense of time, we can rekindle this sense of connection,” said Kamala Sankaram. 

Over the course of 10 hours, the opera spans the Mother Tree’s life from acorn to its “last stand,” the final burst of life-giving energy a tree gives to its vast forest life network before it dies. Trees and visitors will experience sounds native to the natural environment, including animal and tree canopy noises, as well as sounds that mimic moments of life-altering tragedy, including invasions from non-native insects to human-induced threats such as excess rain, logging, and fire. Finally, the narrative carries the audience into the future with sounds that hint at the catastrophic effects of climate change, calling attention to the symbiotic and sometimes negative relationships within ecosystems.

The Last Stand is the winner of Creative Time’s 2021 Emerging Artist Open Call, which offers the opportunity for an artist to create their first-ever public artwork. Lead Project Support for The Last Stand is generously provided by Costa Brazil.

Learn more about The Last Stand, on view in Prospect Park from September 18–October 10, 2021.

Walking Tour of New Park Features

July 21, 2021

Prospect Park’s 585 acres boast a variety of picturesque destinations, delightful nature elements, and important architectural features, shaped by 150+ years of history. For those interested in learning more, Turnstile Tours offers in-park tours weekly to give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at Brooklyn’s Backyard. Learn more and book your tour today. 

Prospect Park Alliance has recently completed work on a few exciting projects around the park, and we’ve put together a self-guided walking tour for you to enjoy during your next park visit. Let’s get started!

Endale Arch (directions) Above, the newly restored Endale Arch in Prospect Park, c. Paul Martinka.

Entering the park from Grand Army Plaza, head in through the pathway furthest on the left, closest to the Brooklyn Public Library. Follow the path to the newly restored Endale Arch, a transporting portal out of the concrete of the city and into the peaceful landscape of the park.

Endale Arch was one of the first architectural elements constructed in Prospect Park in the 1860’s, conceived of by park creators Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. In recent decades, the arch had fallen into disrepair, and Prospect Park Alliance undertook a restoration that completed in 2020. Now, fully restored to it’s original splendor, visitors can enjoy the alternating color motif and fine craftsmanship of the arch with the added benefit of new LED lighting that illuminates the interior. The result is a breathtaking window into Prospect Park’s historic past—learn more about the Endale Arch. 

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New Flatbush Avenue Entrance, c. Svetlana Ragulina.

Flatbush Avenue Entrance (directions)

Head south down the path by the Long Meadow, and cross the Park Drive at Nellie’s Lawn. Follow the path into the woods and you’ll arrive and Prospect Park’s first new entrance to be added to the park since the 1940’s. The Flatbush Avenue Entrance was funded by Mayor Bill de Blasio through the Parks Without Borders initiative, and was designed by Prospect Park Alliance.

The entrance, which opened in early 2021 features new landscaping, seating and lighting, two rock scrambles, and plantings of a variety of resilient trees, shrubs, and flowering plants. It is the only park entrance that leads directly into the woodlands, and provides easy access to the Rose Garden and Vale of Cashmere. Learn more about the contruction and features of the new Flatbush Avenue Entrance. 

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Newly restored Concert Grove Pavilion, c. Paul Martinka.

Concert Grove Pavilion (directions)

Continue south, either along the Park Drive or on the paths that meander through the Ravine. Pass the Boathouse and arrive at the newly restored Concert Grove Pavilion. The Pavilion was designed by Calvert Vaux in 1874 and borrows motifs from Hindu, Chinese, Moorish and Egyptian architecture. The Pavilion—a beloved community destination, was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1974, but the elaborate cast iron columns were salvaged and the pavilion was restored for the first time in 1988, and again in 2021.

Through this current restoration, the Alliance brought back beautiful features including elaborately detailed wooden trim and moldings at the eaves of the roof, terne-coated, stainless-steel roof shingles, and new high-efficiency light fixtures illuminate a beautiful star-patterned, stained-glass ceiling in the center dome and light the surrounding landscape. Learn more about the restoration of the Concert Grove Pavilion. 

Interested in learning about more of Prospect Park Alliance’s work? Visit our Capital Project Tracker to stay up-to-date on improvement projects in the park. 

C. Jordan Rathkopf

2021 Summer Movies Announced

Summer is back in Prospect Park with the return of its annual outdoor movie series, A Summer Movie Under the Stars, this year presented by SHOWTIME® and hosted by Brooklyn Magazine,  Prospect Park Alliance and the office of the Brooklyn Borough President. The series kicks off Thursday, August 5, and runs for four consecutive Thursdays through August 26, at the north end of the Prospect Park Long Meadow.

RSVP to let us know if you plan on attending!

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This year, the series dives into nostalgic classics and feel-good fan favorites for all ages. The month-long series lineup includes The Goonies, Jumanji: The Next Level, Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The themes throughout deal with connectivity, perseverance, friendship, self-empowerment, creativity and fantasy—exactly what everyone needs right now.

“We are thrilled to welcome Brooklynites from across the borough back to our ‘Summer Movie Under the Stars’ event at Prospect Park. This year’s amazing lineup of films offers fun for the whole family. I thank the Prospect Park Alliance, SHOWTIME, and Brooklyn Magazine for partnering with our office to put on this event, and hope you all can join us to enjoy some free cinema in Brooklyn’s communal backyard,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“What better sign that summer is back in Prospect Park than the return of our beloved annual movie series,” said Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue. “We are so appreciative of SHOWTIME, Brooklyn Magazine, and the Brooklyn Borough President for bringing this series to Prospect Park for another season of outdoor fun.”

The films will begin shortly after sundown at the north end of the Prospect Park Long Meadow, located nearest to the Grand Army Plaza entrance. The closest subway stations are the Grand Army Plaza and the Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum stops on the 2, 3 lines or the B41 bus lines.

NOTE: Due to predicted storms, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, originally scheduled for July 29, has been rescheduled to August 26.

The full lineup:

The Goonies (1985)
August 5
A group of young misfits discover an ancient map and set out on an adventure to find a legendary pirate’s long-lost treasure in this Richard Donner and Steven Spielberg classic. 

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)
August 12
The crew is back, but the game has changed. As they return to rescue one of their own, the Jumanji players will have to brave parts unknown from arid deserts to snowy mountains, to escape the world’s most dangerous game.

Black Panther (2018)
August 19
T’Challa, heir to the advanced yet hidden kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from the past.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
August 26
Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers after a radioactive spider bite. Miles transforms into Spider-Man, but there’s an interdimensional twist when he learns that he is not alone with his otherworldly gifts.

RSVP now to let us know you’re attending the summer film series at Prospect Park. This event is free and open to the public, and RSVPs are not required for entry. 

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