c. Chasi Annexy

PPA Profiles: Iris Weinshall and Chuck Schumer Reflect on 30 Years of Prospect Park Alliance

November 16, 2017

Iris Weinshall and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer have many accolades to their names. Weinshall is the Chief Operating Officer of The New York Public Library and the former commissioner of the NYC Department of Transportation. Senator Schumer is the senior United States senator from New York and the current Senate minority leader. Schumer served New York in the House of Representatives from 1981 to 1999, and before that he was a three-term member of the New York State Assembly. 

Another notable accomplishment: Weinshall is the Chair of the Board of Directors of Prospect Park Alliance and both Weinshall and Schumer are passionate advocates of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

“There is nothing more beautiful in the morning than seeing all the people exercising and enjoying Prospect Park,” says Weinshall. “This really is one of New York’s gems.”

“There’s no entrance fee to Prospect Park,” muses Schumer, “and everybody comes from different backgrounds: economic, ethnic, racial, religious, gender and orientation. I sometimes just walk through the Park and stop and talk to people—you meet everybody. Every part of New York comes here.”

Both Weinshall and Schumer are locals, born and raised in Brooklyn and now living across the street from the Park. “I remember going sledding as a little boy,” says Schumer. “We didn’t live near the Park. We lived in southern Brooklyn, but as a treat, my father would drive us to Prospect Park, and we’d go sledding. And then we did it with our kids.” 

The couple married in 1980, and started a family in Brooklyn. “Chuck and I raised our two daughters in Park Slope, and we spent a lot of hours in Prospect Park. Both our daughters played soccer and softball,” says Weinshall. “When I walk around the Park in the spring and summer, and I see those softball games happening, it brings back fond memories for me of when our kids were growing up.”

In 2007, Weinshall joined Prospect Park Alliance’s Board of Directors, and in 2014 was elected Chair of the Board, a position she holds today. 

In 2017, Prospect Park Alliance celebrates two anniversaries: the 150th anniversary of Prospect Park, and the 30th anniversary of Prospect Park Alliance. “To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Prospect Park is remarkable. The Park’s forefathers really had the vision for what they wanted Brooklyn to be,” says Weinshall. 

“I suppose 150 years ago when this Park was first built, people wondered what would be future of this Park, would it deteriorate like so many other things? But it’s probably even more beautiful and more well-used today than it has ever been,” adds Schumer. “Prospect Park Alliance, chaired very ably, has done an amazing job keeping up the Park and getting the surrounding communities involved. And my wish is very simple: that the next 150 years be every bit as good as these 150 years have been.”

“For Prospect Park Alliance, it’s been a great 30 years,” says Weinshall. “We’ve really accomplished a lot, and we will continue to serve not only this Park, but this community.”

Become a member of Prospect Park Alliance today to help sustain the Park, and enjoy special introductory rates.

c. Empire State Building

Celebrate the Park’s 150th

October 16, 2017

Join us on October 19 at 230 Fifth in Manhattan to raise a glass and watch the Empire State Building light up in Prospect Park’s signature green in celebration of the Park’s 150th anniversary. 

On Saturday, October 19, 1867, visitors were welcomed inside Prospect Park’s borders for the first time. Spearheaded by James S.T. Stranahan, a local business and civic leader, and the historic design team of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the Park was far from complete on that October day. Unable to keep curious and delighted visitors away from the Park in progress, the designers decided to welcomed the enthusiastic throngs inside for the first time. 

The subsequent Monday evening edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle recorded the occasion: “The public were formally invited on Saturday, to visit Prospect Park and see how the work was getting on. The weather being remarkably fine for the season, and inviting out door exercise, the visitors to the Park were numerous…it is safe to estimate the number of visitors yesterday at ten thousand.” By 1868, two million people would enjoy what came to be known as “Brooklyn’s Jewel” and “Brooklyn’s Backyard.” Today, the Park welcomes more than 10 million visitors each year.

Today, 150 years later, the Prospect Park Alliance staff work to continue to sustain, restore and advance the vision of Olmsted and Vaux for the diverse communities that call Brooklyn home. It is a year-round effort that keeps this space an essential resource for the millions of visitors every year.

Interested in learning more about the history of Prospect Park? Enjoy slideshows, videos, articles and more on our 150th Anniversary page.  Plus, share your own Prospect Park Stories.

Virginia Freire

PPA Profiles 150: Katherine Borowitz and John Turturro

August 16, 2017

This year, as Prospect Park Alliance celebrates the 150th anniversary of Prospect Park, we’re bringing you stories from members of the community about the role the Park has played in their lives. Interested in contributing your own? Submit your story and have a chance to become part of Brooklyn history. Portrait by Virginia Freire.

When couple Katherine Borowitz and John Turturro first moved to Park Slope in 1988, it was Prospect Park that drew them in. “It was the view, really,” recalls John. “We were up high enough,” Katherine agrees, “and on 10th street, there are all these little gaslights in the park at night, it was like artwork.”

“When we moved in, it snowed…and we had our boxes, I remember that.”

“We had no heat, and we had to sleep in our parkas, but we didn’t care.”

For both Katherine and John, Brooklyn was a new frontier—John was born in Brooklyn, but grew up in Queens. Used to living in Manhattan, the couple remembers the difficulties of transitioning to the neighborhood. “There weren’t many restaurants,” says Turturro, “and our car battery kept getting stolen.” Shortly after moving to Brooklyn, the family welcomed their first child and got to know the Park as parents. “We used the old 9th Street playground, and visited the Carousel a lot when our first child was born.”

In the 1960’s and 70’s, New York City’s financial crisis hit city parks hard, and Prospect Park was no exception. Dilapidated structures, broken benches and high crime rates characterized the once illustrious 585 acres, originally opened in 1867 and designed by architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. When Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit dedicated to taking care of the Park, was founded in 1987, the organization began to tackle the Park’s challenges.

The Alliance’s first success came with the restoration and reopening of the Prospect Park Carousel in 1990, followed by the ongoing revitalization of the Park’s woodlands. In the past 30 years since the Alliance began its work, the Park has seen visitorship skyrocket, and numerous facilities and areas of the Park revived.

Today, Katherine and John have no trepidations about using the Park, and they come on a daily basis as dog owners. “My knowledge of the Park has increased tenfold since having a dog,” says Borowitz, “I know the woods, I’ve got the whole map finally in my head.”

When they aren’t walking in the Park, Borowitz and their dog Phoebe are an animal-therapy team, and their work has different goals in different settings. Working with A Fair Shake for Youth, their goal is to help children improve their interpersonal skills through interactions with dogs. At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, interactions with Phoebe help patients relax and focus their attention on a non-medical interaction. Katherine recently became a licensed social worker, and intends to weave Phoebe into her practice.

John enjoys Prospect Park not only as a bike rider, but also as a filmmaker. Turturro, an Emmy Award-winning actor of stage and screen, is acclaimed for his work in films such as Do The Right Thing; O Brother, Where Art Thou; and recently the HBO miniseries The Night Of, for which he received a Best Actor Emmy nomination. He has also produced and directed several movies, many of which include scenes in Prospect Park.

“I‘ve used it for films, all very different movies.” Turturro’s 1999 film, Illuminata, is a period piece, and stars his wife Katherine. Turturro took advantage of the Park’s 19th-century details and filmed several scenes in the Park, including inside the Meadowport Arch, in front of which the couple is pictured. His 2005 film Romance and Cigarettes included a sequence between James Gandolfini and Kate Winslet on the Park’s Peninsula, and 2013’s Fading Gigolo with Woody Allen brought him to the Nethermead and the Carousel. “It’s beautiful in the Park, so you think, why not do it here? And then you get to walk to work.”

Most of all, Katherine and John appreciate the changes that have come to the Park for the opportunities it affords all visitors. “I love coming every day,” says Katherine. “You see everybody coming with their picnics and their kids and their volleyball nets… I think there is a democracy to this Park that you don’t get in other parks.”

Ruminating on the things they love in the Park, the couple rattles off a list of favorite places. “The World War I memorial by the Lake, and I love how the Alliance redid the LeFrak Center at Lakeside, it’s gorgeous,” says Katherine.

“It’s very calming,” agrees John.

“It’s one thing to have this manicured, bucolic landscape, but it’s a whole other level of fantastic that we have the woods too.”

“And the drum circle.”

“Yeah, you can go on and on.”

Prospect Park Alliance x Pratt Institute x BK Industries Collection Now On Sale

August 1, 2017

Prospect Park Alliance and Brooklyn Industries release Prospect Park 150th Anniversary Commemorative T-shirts, designed by students in Pratt Institute’s Graduate Communications Design Department.

In honor of the 150th Anniversary of Prospect Park, Brooklyn Industries and Prospect Park Alliance partnered with Pratt Institute’s Graduate Communications Design Department to design and produce Prospect Park t-shirts that feature original illustrations from Pratt Institute students. All items in the collection were printed locally at Gowanus Print Lab. 

Several classes from Pratt’s Graduate Communications Design Department participated in a design competition, with the top two designs going to print. Inspired by Brooklyn’s largest green space, these two designs focus on the inhabitants of our Borough’s beloved park.


A common pit stop for migratory birds in addition to its permanent residents, the park sees over 200 species of fowl pass through every year. Student Gang Lu commemorates the Park’s 150th with a typography based rendering of a feathered friend.


Did you know Prospect Park is home to one of the last populations of chipmunks in Brooklyn? Student Maria Gracia Echeverria takes an overlooked critter and adds a healthy dose of whimsy to create this eye-catching children’s design. Available in Onesie and Toddler styles.

Finalists Nivedita Kekre, Jessie Garner, Shashan Chen, and Stephin Hsu all received honorable mentions for their outstanding designs.

This limited edition capsule collection is now on sale online, and will be available at Brooklyn Industries’ 7th Avenue location starting Tuesday, August 8.  A percentage of the proceeds will benefit Prospect Park Alliance.

Brooklyn Historical Society

Alliance + Brooklyn Historical Society Present 150th Exhibition

July 17, 2017

Related Programming: Urban Health, Urban Parks: The Salve of the City

In celebration of the Park’s 150th Anniversary, Brooklyn Historical Society and Prospect Park Alliance present The Means of a Ready Escape: Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, an exhibition that highlights the 150-year social history of Brooklyn’s Backyard. The collaboration between BHS and Prospect Park Alliance tells the story of the 585 acres of forest, field and swamp that Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux were charged with transforming into an urban oasis that would sustain generations of Brooklynites to come. The exhibition opened to the public on Thursday, July 13, 2017.

The Park has never been simply an escape from the city, but a fundamental part of it. Brooklyn and Prospect Park have grown and changed together. Turn-of-the-century swan boats, carriage rides, and lawn tennis are long gone, replaced by in-line skaters, birders, dog-walkers, and drummers. But the aspiration to provide, in Olmsted’s words, “simple, temperate, healthful, rural and domestic forms of recreation” to Brooklyn’s “overworked inhabitants” is, perhaps, more fully realized today than ever before. Throughout its history the people of Brooklyn, and many others, have used, shared, and shaped Prospect Park.

Visitors to The Means of a Ready Escape will learn that sheep roamed the Long Meadow until the 1930s, Brooklyn’s middle-class black families chose Prospect Park over closer green spaces because it was a place where they “felt welcome,” Robert Moses’ efforts to modernize the Park resulted in paving grassy areas for parking lots, and that Adele, a Park Slope caretaker, famously led children into the Park to play, introducing them to the safe haven it could be, despite the era in which the Park fell into disrepair. As the borough changed, so did the Park. The fiscal crisis of the seventies coincided with early waves of gentrification in surrounding neighborhoods. Lacking facilities staff to maintain its infrastructure, the park became perceived as notoriously unsafe. The gem-like boathouse we know today was then used as a recycling center. Paths and fences went unrepaired. The non-profit Prospect Park Alliance was formed in the eighties, in an effort to sustain, restore and advance the Park. Examples of the hard work of compromise within a public park space, like rules around barbequing, the creation of the Drummers Grove, and car access in the park, are explored. Because the bones that comprised its foundation were so very sound, the Park has endured. 

This history is told through panels and over 150 artifacts and documents including numerous postcards, scrapbooks, posters and photographs that reflect the ongoing relationship between the park and its many users. Visitors will enjoy viewing Olmsted and Vaux’s original plan of the Park, 1920s objects like tape measures and paper weights that depict scenes from the Park, hand drawn renderings from the 1990s of the Park’s woodlands restoration, and a model of the AIA National Honor Award-winning Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects in collaboration with Prospect Park Alliance, which opened in 2013. 

For hours and directions, please visit the Brooklyn Historical Society website.


Victor, left, and Alfred, right. C. Virginia Freire

PPA Profiles 150: The Bahna Brothers

July 14, 2017

This year, as Prospect Park Alliance celebrates the 150th anniversary of Prospect Park, we’re bringing you stories from members of the community about the role the Park has played in their lives. Interested in contributing your own? Submit your story and have a chance to become part of Brooklyn history. Portrait by Virginia Freire

Just a few short blocks from Prospect Park, Victor Bahna points out a three-story building. “This was our house,” he exclaims, “this is where we lived.” The circa 1901 row house in Windsor Terrace was home to the Bahna family during the early 20th century. On a recent afternoon, Alfred Bahna, a 92-year-old watch repairman, and Victor Bahna, an 87-year-old retired civil engineer, reminisced about a childhood spent in a Prospect Park accessible to most only through black-and-white photos.

Stopping on a Park bench, Alfred and Victor recalled their family visits to Prospect Park. “My parents used to go to the Park every weekend, they’d bring food with them and we would spend the whole day there,” says Alfred.

“Down by the Lake, we used to go out on the Peninsula and have the picnics,” chimes Victor. “My parents knew a lot of people in the neighborhood from the old country, and they used to meet them there.”

Alfred and Victor’s parents immigrated to the United States from Syria in 1917, and met with the help of a matchmaker before marrying in 1921. The family settled in Windsor Terrace, a neighborhood of immigrants. “It was mixed nationalities in this neighborhood,” remembers Victor. “German, Irish, Italian, Polish, we were the best of friends.”

Their father, Joseph Bahna, was a shoemaker while their mother, Lateffa Bahna, was a dressmaker. While they worked, their boys grew up in the warm embrace of the neighborhood. “It was great being a kid in this area of Brooklyn,” says Victor, “we were outside all the time playing ‘Johnny on the Pony’, ‘Kick-the-Can’, stickball and all these games we played in the street! It was a great time in this neighborhood…everybody knew everybody on the block.”


The Bahna brothers have memories of the Prospect Park of yesteryear, including of the well-known residents on the Long Meadow, “I remember the sheep in Prospect Park!” Victor recalls, “The sheep used to graze there, I was maybe 6 or 7 at the time. My father would take us to the Long Meadow to fly kites. He used to make his own kites, and they were very big. One time he tied a string around me and I was lifted by the kite!”

During World War II, soldiers were stationed in Prospect Park, with anti-aircraft guns and stores of ammunition. Few today remember this time in Prospect Park, but Victor recalls it fondly. “We used to jump the fence and walk through the Park to school, and on our way we would see the soldiers marching around doing their drills,” says Victor. “We used to laugh at them! All the soldiers were southerners, and the Picnic House was the USO.”

The beginning and middle of the 20th century was an exciting time in Prospect Park, with a number of new destinations and events, and high visitorship. Things took a turn in the 1970’s, however, when New York City became embroiled in a fiscal crisis, and the Park’s landscapes and structures fell into serious disrepair. “It was tough,” Victor remembers. “You didn’t want to walk in there at night, you might not come out.” The decline was so precipitous that by the 1980’s attendance had dropped to 1.7 million visits a year—the lowest in the Park’s history.

In 1987, a group of private citizens working with then Parks Commissioner Henry Stern founded a new nonprofit organization—Prospect Park Alliance—to work with the City in leading Prospect Park’s transformation. The subsequent 30 years have seen a renaissance in the Park, thanks in part to the Bahna legacy—Victor’s daughter Catherine joined the Alliance’s Board of Directors in 1999.

“My family history has had a huge influence on me,” says Catherine, who settled with her family in Windsor Terrace. “I feel very rooted here. From the time I was a young child and would hear stories from my father about what it was like growing up in Brooklyn near Prospect Park, to the present, where I live with my family in a house across the street from the Park, I have always had a strong personal connection to the Park and a strong desire to do something to give back. I am very lucky and blessed to be able to play an active role in a Park that is so important to my family—not just for my benefit and enjoyment but also for the benefit of all people who visit the Park.”

Reminiscing about the Park—skating on the frozen Lake, playing football by the 10th Avenue entrance, and getting into a whole lot of mischief, the Bahna brothers meditate on the important role these 585-acres played. “We had a lot of fun,” says Alfred. “We loved the Park,” agrees Victor. “It was our life.”

Prospect Park 150: The Connective Project On View July 7-17

July 6, 2017

Prospect Park Alliance, AREA4 and Architect Suchi Reddy Present 150th Anniversary Public Art Installation Bringing Together Diverse Communities that Love Prospect Park

Add your pinwheel to the display during our free, pinwheel-making workshops Thursdays + Fridays from 4-8 pm, and Saturdays + Sundays from 2-6 pm. View our online gallery and learn more about the project!

Prospect Park Alliance, AREA4 and Suchi Reddy of Reddymade Architecture & Design debut a large-scale public art installation in Prospect Park on the occasion of the Park’s 150th Anniversary.

On view July 7-17 2017, The Connective Project transforms Prospect Park’s Rose Garden—a little-known landscape in the Park’s northeast corner—into an immersive, engaging and ever-growing display. The installation features artwork, photographs, verse and prose submitted by emerging artists, notable Brooklynites and the diverse communities that consider the Park “Brooklyn’s Backyard.” During the installation, the public will be invited to take part in making additional pinwheels to add to the display during select hours.

“Prospect Park Alliance is thrilled to be working with the team at AREA4 and Suchi Reddy on this whimsical and dynamic public installation,” said Sue Donoghue, president of Prospect Park Alliance. “When we set out to plan our major events celebrating the Park’s 150th, our key goal was the engage the community in the celebration, which The Connective Project achieves in a beautiful and innovative way.”

Background on the Connective Project

 The Connective Project is composed of more than 7,000 individually designed pinwheels, printed with work submitted by the public. The installation creates an evolving, undulating wave of color and beauty that blankets the two-and-half acre plot, which is the focus of future restoration by the Alliance. Reddy chose pinwheels because they are universally loved objects of childhood memories, much like public parks, and evoke nature in their movement attuned to wind and natural forces.

“Our inspiration behind the Connective Project was to bring together the broader Brooklyn community with the Park in a unique way at the level the 150th anniversary deserves,” said Rory McEvoy, president of AREA4. “This is an elegant and inclusive way for people to add their unique voice to a collective undertaking: a reflection of the Park’s usage and the Alliance’s care of it.”

The installation was conceived as an architectural form that would immerse and engage the community,” said Reddy, who has long been an advocate of architecture for the people. “Architecture is accessible and tangible and easily translatable. We wanted to create something that would initiate a dialogue about the importance of public spaces, which we feel is so important right now, but also something that generates wonder and play.”

Reddy’s vision was very much influenced by the beauty and vision of Prospect Park’s designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who in 1867 transformed 585 acres of rural terrain into the urban retreat that is Brooklyn’s Backyard. Now 150 years later, the Rose Garden will be experienced again in grand fashion, full of color and whimsy, a nod to the creative spirit that pervades Brooklyn and Reddy’s practice.

The pinwheels are constructed of weather-resistant, compostable paper made from stone dust. The community engagement process began with an open call to artists to submit works for a chance to be selected by a panel, consisting of representatives from the Brooklyn Council of the Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, BRIC Arts & Media, PIONEER WORKS, MoCADA, and Russell Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.

Artist Ansel Oommen was selected as the winner of the open call. Prints of his piece, Chitin & Furanocoumarin, will be on sale in the Brooklyn Museum gift shop during the installation, along with works by the top ten finalists. Pioneer Works will be featuring the winning artist’s work as well as displaying the pinwheels of the top ten finalists and 20 runners up as part of their Second Sundays event taking place on August 13th. This event will also feature pinwheel making in the Pioneer Works’ garden.

The Connective Project is funded in part by Bloomberg Philanthropies, with additional support from NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and GSB Digital.

Prospect Park 150: Catch A Summer Movie Under the Stars

In celebration of Prospect Park’s 150th anniversary, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Prospect Park Alliance present A Summer Movie Under the Stars in partnership with Brooklyn’s Nitehawk Cinema

These free outdoor film screenings on Prospect Park’s Long Meadow North will feature live musical entertainment followed by family-friendly films carefully selected by Nitehawk’s cinema department, to highlight park themes such as the famed Prospect Park Zoo, summer camps, Little League Baseball and the exquisite flora and fauna.The full line-up is as follows:

  • Wednesday, July 19 – The NeverEnding Story
    Live entertainment by DJ Jane Elizabeth spinning a1980s music set
  • Wednesday, July 26 – The Sandlot
    Live entertainment by Doo Wop band
  • Wednesday, August 2 – Moonrise Kingdom
    Live entertainment by Morricone Youth
  • Wednesday, August 9 – Zootopia
    Live entertainment by Brooklyn United Marching Band

RSVP today for one or more of these screenings!

“What better way to celebrate 150 years of memories in Brooklyn’s backyard than making a few more under the stars with family and friends? Our exciting run of summer movies, paired with an equally exciting lineup of live entertainment, is a can’t-miss ticket for fun — and best of all, that ticket is free! I’m looking forward to joining my friends from the Alliance and Nitehawk Cinema in welcoming Brooklynites and visitors to enjoy these screenings,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.

“Our 150th celebration of Prospect Park is all about community, and what better way to gather with friends and neighbors than a free summer movie under the stars,” said Sue Donoghue, president of Prospect Park Alliance. “A big thanks to the Borough President, who has been a steadfast supporter of the Park, and also to Nitehawk Cinema for creating such a wonderful line up.”

“We’ve enjoyed offering free outdoor movies to the Brooklyn public nearly every year since our inception and it’s our pleasure to help celebrate Prospect Park’s 150th anniversary with family-friendly film programming spotlighting the park themes,” said Nitehawk Cinema founder Matthew Viragh. “The movies we’ve chosen are a mix of older classics we love and want to introduce to a younger generation, and newer films that are sure to please a wide range of ages. This will also give residents a taste of what’s to come at our next location Nitehawk Prospect Park.”

All live entertainment will start at 7 p.m. and films begin shortly after sundown at Long Meadow North, located nearest to the Grand Army Plaza entrance at Eastern Parkway. The closest subway station is the Eastern Parkway Brooklyn Museum stop on the 2, 3, and 4 lines. There are no rain dates in the event of inclement weather.  

For more information, maps and directions, visit: www.prospectpark.org/summermovie

A Summer Movie Under the Stars is made possible with additional support from HBO and Investors Bank.


Reimagining the Rose Garden

June 1, 2017

In timing with Prospect Park’s 150th anniversary, Prospect Park Alliance—the non-profit organization that sustains the Park—announced the launch of its restoration plans for one of the Park’s hidden gems, a former Rose Garden in the Park’s northeast corner. The first phase of the process is to engage the public in the future vision for this landscape, including a June 1 open call for an immersive art installation, The Connective Project, conceived by AREA4 and Reddymade Architecture + Design, which invites the public to submit photos, artwork, prose or verse inspired by their love of the Park; and a June 10 community design workshop led by Hester Street Collaborative.

Submit your photos, artwork, prose or verse starting June 1 for the community art installation. 

“Since its founding, Prospect Park Alliance has been focused on renewing the Park for the enjoyment of all of Brooklyn,” said Sue Donoghue, president of Prospect Park Alliance. “Through these innovative community engagement initiatives, we are looking to involve all of the diverse communities that consider the Park ‘Brooklyn’s Backyard’ in the future vision of this corner of the Park, one of the few remaining landscapes untouched by restoration.”

Rose Garden Restoration

Prospect Park Alliance is working with Hester Street Collaborative, a non-profit organization focused on improving the physical environment in underserved NYC neighborhoods (and currently working on the City’s cultural plan), to engage the community in the future vision for the Rose Garden—the first step in the Alliance’s plans to restore this landscape in the Park’s northeast corner. The Alliance is looking to gather input from a wide variety of communities that border the Park and use the Park regularly. Over the course of the summer and fall, the Alliance and Hester Street Collaborative will be reaching out to the community in a variety of settings to help determine the future design of this space. To kick off the community engagement process, Prospect Park Alliance and Hester Street Collaborative are hosting a Community Design Workshop on June 10. Learn more and RSVP. 

The Connective Project

The Connective Project is an immersive art installation created from thousands of pinwheels to create an evolving, undulating wave of color and beauty that blankets the two-and-half acre Rose Garden from July 7-17, 2017. On June 1, the Alliance will launch an open call for submissions from the public to share artwork, photos, verse or prose that expresses their love of Prospect Park. All submissions will be featured on an online gallery, while select pieces will be printed and transformed into one of 7,000 pinwheels that will be showcased in the Park and constructed of weather-resistant biodegradable paper made from stone dust. Learn more and submit your pieces

The designer Suchi Reddy of Reddymade Architecture + Design designed an installation that would engage the public in a dialogue about the importance of public space, but also generate wonder and play. Full of color and whimsy, The Connective Project is a nod to the creative spirit that pervades Brooklyn and Reddy’s practice. The engagement with the community began with an open call to emerging artists, curated by the Brooklyn Council of the Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, BRIC Arts & Media, PIONEER WORKS, MoCADA, and Russell Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.

The Connective Project is funded in part by Bloomberg Philanthropies, with additional support from NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and Tesla, Inc.

About the Rose Garden

Originally the “Children’s Playground,” the Rose Garden, a 2.5-acre landscape in the northeast corner of the Park, featured parallel bars, swings, and seesaws with a croquet lawn and maze. It also was home to the Park’s first, horse-powered carousel. During the City Beautiful Movement in the late 1800s, the prestigious firm of McKim, Mead and White transformed the landscape into a Rose Garden with three lily ponds, which was a popular attraction before the creation of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Over time, like most of Prospect Park prior to the founding of Prospect Park Alliance, this area became neglected, and the roses, long gone.

Today, Prospect Park Alliance maintains the landscape with the help of its landscape crews and volunteers. It is also the focus of the non-profit’s next major restoration efforts in the 26 acres that comprise the Park’s northeast corner. This spring, the Alliance is continuing work on restoring woodlands in the Vale of Cashmere, a lush landscape adjacent to the Rose Garden. Through a grant from the National Parks Service, administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Alliance is using goats as an environmentally friendly way to remove invasive weeds prior to planting new trees. The Alliance will also conduct historic restoration work on an existing pool.

In addition, through funding from Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Council Member Laurie Cumbo, the Alliance is in the design phase of restoring the Flatbush Avenue perimeter from Grand Army Plaza to Ocean Avenue, with broadened sidewalks, new trees and street furniture. Through the City’s Parks Without Borders Initiative, the Alliance will also create two new entrances on Flatbush Avenue, and improve the entrance on Flatbush Avenue at Empire Boulevard.

Learn more about improvements on the East Side of the Park.

Reimagine Prospect Park is made possible through the generous support of The Altman Foundation.


Virginia Freire

PPA Profiles 150: Council Member Laurie Cumbo

May 17, 2017

This year, as Prospect Park celebrates its 150th anniversary, we’re bringing you stories from members of the community about the impact the Park has had on their lives. Interested in contributing your own? Submit your story and we might share it with other Park lovers! Image c. Virginia Freire Photography

New York City Council Member Laurie Cumbo and Prospect Park are tied together in a number of significant ways. Growing up in East Flatbush, Cumbo visited the Park regularly for nature walks. Her sister participated in the Urban Park Rangers program, and one of Cumbo’s first summer jobs was as a Park Youth Rep at the Carousel.

“I remember it being a fun job,” she said. As a member of the City Council, she recently allocated $500,000 for Prospect Park Alliance to make improvements to the Carousel, including structural work and mechanical upgrades. And these days, she’s looking forward to visiting the Carousel in a new capacity—as a parent.

“I’m expecting!,” Cumbo revealed during a recent visit to Prospect Park. “It’s going to be so nostalgic to be able to come here with my child and have him experience what I experienced.” On May 1, 42-year old Cumbo publicly announced her pregnancy in a Facebook post saying: “If Janet can have a baby at 50, Serena can win the Australian Open at two months pregnant and Beyonce can perform live at the Grammys, pregnant with twins… I know that I can accomplish anything with the love, support and prayers of the village.”

Prior to becoming a City Council Member, Cumbo founded Brooklyn’s Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) and served as its executive director for over a decade. “Working with Brooklyn-based organizations, you really feel that you are part of the success of the borough,” said Cumbo, “and when you feel the success of the borough, you want to be a part of its continued evolution.”

In 2013, Cumbo successfully ran for public office to represent the 35th District in the New York City Council, an area that includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. “To be a City Council Member is phenomenal because now you have a voice at the table,” said Cumbo, “you can determine the direction that the borough goes in.”

Cumbo particularly values parks. “It’s important when you’re living in an urban environment that you have balance, and an ability to connect to nature,” she said.

In addition to funding the restoration of the Prospect Park Carousel, Cumbo—along with Borough President Eric Adams—is also providing funding the Alliance’s work to restore the Park’s Flatbush Avenue perimeter. The project includes reconstructing the sidewalk and fencing, and installing new street furniture, lighting and landscaping. The project will go far in improving accessibility to the east side of the Park.

“It’s important that we continue to support Prospect Park Alliance and the important work being accomplished,” said Cumbo. “You want to leave the next generation in a better place than the way it was when you found it. Prospect Park really is a special place to me.”

Learn more about the improvements to the Flatbush Avenue perimeter.