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Summer from the Archives

December 08, 2015

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On a sunny summer afternoon, upon entering the Park at Grand Army Plaza, the view wouldn’t be all that different. (Although the Plaza was limited to horse-drawn carriages back then.) Loungers would still occupy grassy patches of the Long Meadow, and bicyclists could still be seen circling the Park Drive. However, the Long Meadow was also dotted with sheep in the 1890s – their presence was both utilitarian and aesthetic in choice; they kept the lawn trimmed, and the Park’s designers Olmsted and Vaux sought to emulate the look of an English countryside.

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Should your 1890 Park visit coincide with May Day – a now largely forgotten holiday celebrating the arrival of spring – on the first of May, you could find yourself literally wrapped up in a Maypole on the Long Meadow.

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After a long day spent at the Long Meadow enjoying the beautiful summer weather, rather than venture out of the Park to a bodega for a drink or snack, Park goers in 1890 could stay in the Park and head to the Dairy – a spot of shaded reprieve where patrons could sip fresh milk from one of the Park’s in-house dairy cows.

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Of course things have changed. Brooklyn now boasts over two million residents, and the Park receives over 10 million visitors annually. But there’s still no better way to spend a summer weekend afternoon than in Prospect Park.