Prospect Park’s Presidential Trivia

February 11, 2021

Got U.S. presidents on the brain? Between the recent inauguration and the upcoming President’s Day holidays, we decided to take a look back to the United States presidents of the past who left their mark on our very own Prospect Park. Take the quiz and test your presidential and park knowledge!

The Presidents + The Park Quiz (answers below):

  1. Though this president never visited Prospect Park, he has two likenesses here—who is it?
  2. Which president’s daughter viewed a parade of school children on the Long Meadow in 1950?
  3. Which president appears in a beloved monument in bronze on the back of his horse, Cincinnati?
  4. Which president used the south Long Meadow as a makeshift helipad during a visit to Brooklyn?
  5. Which president attended the dedication of Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in 1892?
  6. What president’s monument was re-installed in Prospect Park in 2010?
  7. Which president’s home was temporarily recreated in Prospect Park in the 1930s? 

Answers below!


Answer 1. Abraham Lincoln 
Prospect Park is home to not one, but two sculptural renditions of Abraham Lincoln. The first, pictured below, was first erected in Grand Army Plaza in 1869, and moved to the Concert Grove in 1895 where it remains today, overlooking the Lake. This was the very first statue memorial to President Lincoln after his assassination in 1865 and was the park’s first monument, added just two years after Prospect Park first opened to the public in 1867. The second, pictured above, can be found on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza.


Answer 2. Harry Truman
The 33rd president’s daughter, Margaret Truman Daniel, visited Prospect Park and attended a parade of Protestant school children on the Long Meadow during her father’s term in office. 

Margaret Truman2.jpg

Answer 3. Ulysses S. Grant
An equestrian statue of President Grant atop his horse Cincinnati can be found on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza opposite the above statue of Abram Lincoln. The arch, which commemorates the Union victory in the Civil War, includes these unusual relief sculptures from creators Thomas Eakins and William R. O’Donovan. The reliefs were originally meant to adorn the front of the arch, were criticized for the unusual proportions and lack of grandeur, and were eventually moved to inner faces of the arch piers.

Answer 4. Barack Obama
Many of us remember when Marine One landed on the Prospect Park Ballfields in October 2013 carrying then-president Barack Obama. He was on his way to give a speech at a school in Crown Heights and hundreds gathered on and around the Long Meadow to try and catch a glimpse of the 44th president. President Obama is no stranger to Brooklyn, having lived in Park Slope at 640 Second Street for a year in the mid-1980s. As he told the student’s at Pathways in Technology Early College High School during that 2013 visit, “When I was living here, Brooklyn was cool, but not this cool.”


Answer 5. Grover Cleveland
President Cleveland was on hand with General William Tecumseh Sherman to lay the cornerstone of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza at the dedication ceremony in 1892. The arch resembles the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris, though at eighty-by-eighty feet, Brooklyn’s arch is substantially smaller than it’s French counterpart which stands at 162 feet. 

Answer 6. John F. Kennedy
In 1965, two years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a bronze bust of the late president by Neil Estern was installed at Grand Army Plaza. It was recently recast and reinstalled in it’s current location at the north end of the Plaza in 2010. It is the only statue honoring President Kennedy in New York City. 


Answer 7. George Washington
Strange as it may seem, a replica of George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, was erected on the Prospect Park Peninsula in 1932 to commemorate the bicentennial of his birth, complete with a Presidential impersonator. From then until 1934, when it was taken down, crowds lined up to pay admission to see the elaborate gardens and meticulously recreated interiors.


Enjoy more online games and activities on our Virtual Prospect Park page!

c. Elif Altinbasak

Prospect Park Alliance Celebrates Black History Month

February 19, 2020

Happy Black History Month! Prospect Park Alliance is celebrating this important awareness month by making a path through history in Prospect Park. 

The Drummer’s Grove—A Prospect Park Tradition
In the 1960s, an Afro-Caribbean community emerged just east of Prospect Park in the neighborhoods of Flatbush, East Flatbush and Crown Heights. In 1968, some of these “Little Caribbean” residents began to meet weekly at the southeastern corner of Prospect Park for a drum circle. Calling themselves the Congo Square Drummers, they came together in Prospect Park “to rehearse, and just to play and rejoice,” says Abiodun McCray, one of the group’s founders. Recalling African ancestors who brought their musical traditions to the West Indies in the 17th century, this was a way for the Congo Square Drummers to celebrate community and remember home in the midst of the African Diaspora.

Over the years, the drum circle grew, and in 1997 Prospect Park Alliance added seating to the area and gave it the name of Drummer’s Grove as a part of a renovation of the Parkside and Ocean Avenue Entrance. Today the beat goes on in Drummer’s Grove, and it continues to be a place where anyone can stop by on a Sunday during the warmer months to play, dance, or simply enjoy the music.

Above photo courtesy of Elif Altinbasak. See a video of the Prospect Park Drummer’s Circle in full swing on YouTube, courtesy of Humberto Middleton.


The Sacred History of Gran Bwa
Did you know that Gran Bwa, a sacred Haitian gathering spot, is located next to Prospect Park Lake?
As a part of the 20th-century wave of West Indian immigrants to Brooklyn, many Haitians settled in the neighborhoods of Flatbush, East Flatbush and Crown Heights. Deenps Bazile, one of these Haitian immigrants, was walking through Prospect Park in the 1980s when he felt spirits instructing him to carve a tree trunk next to the Lake. Bazile sculpted a large human head, two small human faces, a lion and a legba (a Haitian Vodou spirit) in the tree stump. This sculpture sparked the use of the area by the Haitian community, and it came to be named after Gran Bwa, the Haitian Vodou spirit associated with trees, plants and herbs. Although the sculpture is no longer in the park, its site continues to be an important gathering spot for the Haitian community.

The largest celebration at Gran Bwa, called Bwa Kayiman, happens annually in August. At this ceremony, participants memorialize the Haitian revolution—which propelled it to become the first black nation to attain independence from their enslavers—and nourish Haitian Vodou spirits. Says Makini Armand, “Gran Bwa is a place to experience the healing power of nature and community, for us to restore ourselves through experiences that bond us with one another and with the natural community around us… it’s an important part of our cultural background to keep families together, and preserve the Haitian heritage and keep the culture alive.”

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance Archives. See a video of the annual celebration in Prospect Park, courtesy of CityLore on YouTube.


Shirley Chisholm, Brooklyn’s Hometown Hero
A local hero, Shirley Chisholm was born in Brooklyn to Barbadian parents. She spent her childhood in Barbados but returned to Brooklyn at age ten and lived much of her life in Crown Heights, to the northeast of Prospect Park and blocks away from the site of the historic Weeksville village. Chisholm was the first black Congresswoman in U.S. history, and both a leader and an advocate for residents of Brooklyn and the country at large. Her notable achievements in Congress included working to expand access to food stamps, helping to pass Title IX and extending minimum wage requirements to domestic workers. In 1972, Representative Chisholm became the first Black major-party candidate to run for President of the United States. True to her famous slogan, “unbought and unbossed,” Chisholm refused to abandon the interests of her constituents, no matter what establishment politicians did to intimidate her or mitigate her efforts. 

In 2018, Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue joined First Lady Chirlane McCray to announce that a monument to Chisholm would grace the park’s Parkside entrance—a location where the Alliance is undertaking a significant restoration as part of the work to improve the park’s eastern perimeter. After an open call for submissions and public feedback, artists  Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous were selected to design the park’s new monument—the first to be commissioned as part of the She Built NYC program, which seeks to expand representation of women in the City’s public art collection. The monument is in the design phase, and an important part of the upcoming restoration of the Parkside and Ocean perimeters.

Photo a still from “Chisholm ‘72” from Realside Productions.

Prospect Park Carousel is a Treasure of New York

September 18, 2018

Prospect Park’s historic Carousel was recently a feature of THIRTEEN’s Treasures of New York, highlighted as an “Historic Gem in Brooklyn.” The segment tells the history of carousels in Prospect Park, including the current carousel, which was built in 1912 by one of the foremost carousel designers of the day, Charles Carmel. It came to the park in 1952, but fell into disrepair in the 1970s. In 1990, the newly formed Prospect Park Alliance—the non-profit that sustains, restores and advances the park—undertook the restoration of the Carousel in an effort to return this landmark to its original glory. The project was a great success, and today the Carousel and its 53 hand-carved horses (plus assorted dragons, giraffe and deer) is just one of the many attractions that draws millions of visitors to the park each year.

Watch the video feature: 


Today, the Carousel is one of Prospect Park’s most popular venue for children’s birthday parties! Learn more about having your next party at this beloved landmark. 

c. Domenick D'Andrea

The Battle of Brooklyn in Prospect Park

August 13, 2018

Long before designers Olmsted and Vaux reshaped the topography to create Prospect Park, the hills of Brooklyn served as the stage of the largest battle of the Revolutionary War in terms of total combatants: the August 27, 1776, Battle of Brooklyn. The chain of lowland hills that run through Brooklyn overlook long, open flatlands. In the 1770s, the area was covered with thick forest and brush. There were only four passes that cut through the rocky ridge, including Flatbush Pass in what is now Prospect Park.

Six weeks prior to this historic engagement, the Continental Army had captured Boston at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The Colonists knew that the British would respond by securing the most strategic military outpost, the port city of New York. General George Washington had already started moving troops to Brooklyn in early May, and General John Sullivan was charged to hold the ridgeline that extends from today’s Green-Wood Cemetery, through Prospect Park to Mount Prospect Park. Flatbush Pass, which runs between a cluster of rugged hills where today joggers strain up the park’s East Drive, was marked with a large white tree called the Dongan Oak, which was chopped down to impede the British advance.

On August 27, the Hessians (German mercenaries hired by the British) pushed up Flatbush Pass to meet the American blockade. The invading forces were instructed to wait to attack the Colonists until the British gave the signal. General Sullivan expected the British to travel from the Gowanus Pass, and was unaware that the British troops had found their way to Jamaica Pass, thanks to local Loyalists. At approximately 9 am, the British General James Grant fired a cannon to signal the Hessians to commence their attack. With the Hessians at the front and the British forces coming from the rear–over grounds now known as the Vale of Cashmere and Nellie’s Lawn–the American soldiers were completely caught by surprise, and fled in panic across today’s Long Meadow.

General Sullivan was unable to organize a retreat before the Hessians overtook the forward guard, and the fighting devolved into hand-to-hand combat. Some Americans escaped through the swampy landscape, some were captured and sent to British prison ships in Wallabout Bay, and others were battlefield casualties. Ninety years later, when the park was being built, remains of those soldiers were uncovered, as were American fortifications and gun pits.

The Battle of Brooklyn was the first conflict in the American Revolution after the July 4 signing of the Declaration of Independence, and these hills remained hallowed ground for the people of Brooklyn for many generations. The memory of Battle Pass was part of the reason the site was chosen for Prospect Park in the 1850s, and markers were added in the park to commemorate that fateful day in American history. Visitors can find three bronze plaques along the East Drive which describe the events and mark the line of defense as well as the location of the Dongan Oak. At the base of Lookout Hill, the Maryland Monument commemorates the heroic stand of Major Mordecai Gist’s Maryland Regiment, which numbered just four hundred men but managed to hold off two thousand Hessian and Scottish invaders around a Dutch farmhouse, now known to Brooklynites as the Old Stone House. Only ten men survived, and the monument is inscribed with General Washington’s exclamation, “Good God! What brave fellows I must this day lose.”