City Approves Prospect Park Vale and Shirley Chisholm Monument Plans
July 28, 2023
Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that sustains the park in partnership with the city, announced the New York City Public Design Commission approved plans for the restoration of the Vale in the northeast corner of Prospect Park and also the monument to Brooklyn trailblazer Shirley Chisholm at the Parkside and Ocean Avenue Entrance to Prospect Park.
Following a design competition and planning process, the City approved plans for a 32-foot-tall monument to Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to serve in Congress, representing her childhood neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. Artists Olalekan B. Jeyifous and Amanda Williams’ winning design encompasses a 32-foot-tall painted steel and bronze silhouette of Chisholm intertwined with the U.S. Capitol Dome, incorporating decorative metalwork of plants native to Barbados, where she lived as a child. The stonework surrounding the monument will include a Chisholm quote and an outline of the House of Representatives seating plan, with a bronze plaque representing Chisholm’s seat.
“Depending upon your vantage point and approach to the Ocean Avenue entrance of Prospect Park, you can see Ms. Chisholm’s silhouette inextricably intertwined with the iconic dome of the U.S. Capitol building,” said Jeyifous and Williams. “This trailblazing woman was not diminutive and this monument reflects how Chisholm’s collaborative ideals were larger than herself.”
To complement the monument, the Alliance, through funding from the City Council, will create a Shirley Chisholm Welcome Center with information on the life of Shirley Chisholm, and visitor amenities including a restroom.
Prospect Park Vale Restoration
The Vale comprises eight acres in the heart of the northeast corner of Prospect Park. Through an intensive community outreach and design process, the Alliance’s award-winning team of architects and landscape architects have designed a space for nature exploration, intergenerational gathering and quiet reflection.
The Vale restoration transforms two key landscapes: the historic Children’s Pond and a former Rose Garden, and also encompasses an additional 3 acres of woodland restoration that will continue an important pollinator corridor across the park. The restoration of the Children’s Pond will bring back historic details while improving the environment through new plantings and bird-friendly features. The former Rose Garden, which features three disused concrete basins, will be transformed into three connected landscapes that respect the park’s historic design while restoring the woodland landscape and adding new amenities, including: a pollinator garden and planted rustic arbor; a children’s natural exploration area; and a shady picnicking lawn next to a small pavilion with composting restrooms and a sheltered area for community use.
The resulting design was approved by surrounding community boards 8 and 9; the Brooklyn Borough Board and the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Public Design Commission. The design also received letters of support from I AM CARIBBEING, the Natural Areas Conservancy, the Park Slope Civic Council, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, the Prospect Lefferts Garden Neighborhood Association and the Brooklyn Borough President and Council Members Shahana Hanif and Crystal Hudson.
“An urban park really needs to balance these uses for humans, plants, birds and animals,” said Public Design Commissioner Isabel Castilla. “I have seen the evolution of this design through its many iterations in the past few months and I would say [the plan]…is a very thoughtful design that provides a space for people…and also creates boundaries so that nature can have its own space.”
The Vale is slated to begin construction in 2025 and open to the public in 2026; the Shirley Chisholm Monument will be constructed in timing with the restoration of the Parkside and Ocean Avenues park entrance, which is slated to begin construction in 2024 and open to the public in 2025.