June is Health + Wellness Month!

May 31, 2023

Did you know that time in nature can reduce stress, improve your mood and boost your physical health?

Prospect Park Alliance is kicking off our Summer of Stewardship with exciting opportunities to Be a Park Champion and care for your park, while making the most of the health and wellness benefits offered by nature.

Show friends and family that you care for them and your park: send a loved one an Rx For Nature and enjoy the health benefits of nature together with one of these fun activities:


While enjoying nature, don’t forget to Be a Park Champion by carrying out everything you bring into the park, staying on paved or wood-chipped trails, and admiring the wildlife from a safe distance.

Learn more at prospectpark.org/champion and send an Rx for Nature today!

Movie Nights in Prospect Park Return

Spend your summer nights in Prospect Park with Paramount+ Movie Nights in Brooklyn, the free, outdoor movie series presented by Paramount+ and Brooklyn Magazine, in partnership with Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso and Prospect Park Alliance.

The series will take place on Prospect Park’s Long Meadow for four consecutive Wednesdays starting July 26, and continues the longstanding summer movie series offered in Prospect Park for many years through the support of the Borough President.

Paramount+ Movie Nights in Brooklyn will offer nostalgic classics and feel-good fan favorites for all ages. The themes throughout are connectivity, perseverance, friendship, family, self-empowerment, creativity, fantasy, and fun — just what we could all use this summer.

“There’s nothing better than Brooklyn in the summertime, especially the memories of summer as a kid. We’re in luck that nostalgia is the theme of our “Paramount+ Movie Nights in Brooklyn” series this summer,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “I’m thrilled to bring a selection of classic movies, and films we know will become classics, to Fort Greene Park, Prospect Park, and McCarren Park throughout the summer. I look forward to getting this program started and want to extend my deep thanks to the Prospect Park Alliance and the Fort Greene Park Conservancy for their partnership.”

“We are thankful to Borough President Reynoso for continuing this long-cherished tradition of bringing our community together for free movie nights under the stars in Brooklyn’s Backyard, and to Paramount+ and Brooklyn Magazine for their support of this series,” adds Morgan Monaco, President, Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit organization that sustains, restores and advances Prospect Park. “We also are delighted to partner with the Fort Greene Park Conservancy to expand the series to our sister park for an even better season of outdoor fun.”

In addition to the movie nights in Prospect Park, the series will kick off with four consecutive Thursday evenings beginning Thursday, June 29, in Fort Greene Park, in partnership with the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, and end with four final evenings starting Sunday, August 20, in McCarren Park.

Prospect Park Movie Lineup:

Top Gun: Maverick

July 26

After thirty years, Maverick is still pushing the envelope as a top naval aviator, but must confront ghosts of his past when he leads TOP GUN’s elite graduates on a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it.

Bring It On

August 2

A champion high school cheerleading squad discovers its previous captain stole all their best routines from another school and must scramble to compete at this year’s championships.

The Nutty Professor (1996)

August 9

Good-hearted professor Sherman Klump takes a special chemical that turns him into the obnoxious Buddy Love.

Guardians of the Galaxy

August 16

A group of intergalactic criminals must pull together to stop a fanatical warrior with plans to purge the universe.

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.

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. Please note that the movie may be cancelled in the case of inclement weather. Please visit prospectpark.org and  Prospect Park Alliance’s social media channels for up-to-date information.

National Trails Day in Prospect Park

Be a Park Champion this National Trails Day in Prospect Park! Saturday, June 3, is the 31st annual National Trails Day, a day to celebrate your local trails alongside community members and pledge to leave your trail better than you found it every day of the year.

Prospect Park’s 585 acres are home to Brooklyn’s last remaining forest. These 250 acres of scenic woodlands, sustained by Prospect Park Alliance, are not only essential to the health of the park and the wildlife that call it home, but are also a source of wellness for our community.

Time in nature can reduce stress, improve your mood and boost your physical health, and getting out on the trails in Brooklyn’s Backyard is a wonderful way to reap these benefits. To make the most of all these trails have to offer, Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC) members share some of their favorite routes and tips for walkers and runners of all levels.

To join the National Trails Day movement, boost your health by taking a walk or run through one of Prospect Park’s scenic trails, and lend a hand to keep these woodland areas pristine and healthy. Be a Park Champion while enjoying the park’s natural beauty, by staying on paved or wood chip paths, keeping dogs leashed in woodland areas, admiring wildlife from a safe distance, and taking nothing from the park with you.

“What makes running or walking on Prospect Park’s trails so special are the unexpected delights—finding little waterfalls, coming upon a familiar part of the park from a different angle and taking a moment before you quite realize where you are,” said Lisa Knauer, one of PPTC’s Race Directors. “One of my favorite routes is climbing up Lookout Hill on a clear day and catching a glimpse of Coney Island.”

Another must-see walking or running route begins starting from Grand Army Plaza. Take the eastern pathway to the Endale Arch into the Long Meadow and follow along the hex-block path on the east side of the Long Meadow. Follow the path until it forks at a tall oak tree, and take the path on the left into the woodlands. Follow the trail until you reach another fork, and take the wide stone steps on your left and then turn right down another set of steps. At the bottom you’ll find the little-known Boulder Bridge, a historic bridge that was recreated by the Alliance in the 1990s as part of the larger restoration of the Ravine. The view from this bridge is one of the most scenic in the park. After enjoying the view, return to the path and continue to the right of Boulder Bridge, down a few more steps. At the bottom you will find a small octagonal footprint of a structure where an old rustic shelter once stood. Take in the view of the gorge below, and then continue down the steps until you reach Rock Arch Bridge and Ambergill Falls, one of several waterfalls that were designed by park creators Olmsted and Vaux. Continue down the path until it forks, and then turn right and head up the sloping path back toward the Long Meadow and enjoy the towering trees and wildlife sightings along the way.

You also won’t want to miss recent scenic additions in the heart of Prospect Park’s woodlands—including a rustic trail just off Center Drive thanks to the 2021 summer cohort of the Prospect Park Alliance Woodlands Youth Crew, whose vital restoration work transformed this part of the park. This trail now offers park goers a chance to see the top of the Lullwater, a view of Brooklyn’s Backyard that was previously inaccessible to park visitors.

As part of the Prospect Park Alliance’s woodland restoration work in the Vale, the team also installed a new rustic rail trail, which leads visitors to two sites that are currently being restored: the Rose Garden to the Children’s Pool, inviting visitors to take a meandering route through the woods while staying on path.

“Right in Brooklyn’s Backyard, exploring the trails in Prospect Park can make you feel a world away from the busy city,” said PPTC Board member Katie Claiborne. By making the most of your time in nature, staying active and practicing good stewardship this National Trails Day and every day, you are helping Brooklyn’s wildlife and community thrive.

Ready to get out on the trail and #BeAParkChampion? Learn more about programs offered by Prospect Park Track Club in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Plus, enjoy family-friendly nature walks at the Prospect Park Audubon Center.

Celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage Month and Juneteenth at Lefferts Historic House

May 23, 2023

Join Prospect Park Alliance and partners to celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage Month and Juneteenth at Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park. Brooklyn’s Backyard will be home to a month of celebrations of Black and Caribbean cultures. Enjoy music, dance, storytelling, drumming  and much more for Brooklynites of all ages.

Legendary Traditional Characters of J’Ouvert
Sunday, June 11, 2 – 5 pm, Free
Lefferts Historic House
Learn More + RSVP
Join Prospect Park Alliance and JouvayFest Collective, Bush Wo/man Conversations Project, and 2J & Friends at the Lefferts Historic House for a fun and informative family-friendly  event about the legendary traditional characters of J’Ouvert. J’ouvert (pronounced Jew-vay) translates as ‘I Open.’ It marks the beginning of the annual Carnival celebrations in many Caribbean islands. J’Ouvert was started by formerly enslaved Africans in the predominantly French speaking colonies, when they began participating in the pre-Lenten festivities of the ruling class. In Trinidad and Tobago, the tradition was further solidified through the Canboulay riots in 1881. J’Ouvert remains a potent living tradition and symbol of the power of history and culture in the Caribbean, Brooklyn, and beyond. This event will be held rain or shine.

Rise in Spirit: A Juneteenth Celebration
Saturday, June 17, 1 – 6 pm, Free
Lefferts Historic House
Learn More + RSVP
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a Juneteenth Celebration produced by the Brooklyn-based Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation. The family-friendly event will take visitors on a journey of the African Diaspora that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the people of Africa and African descendant cultures. The theme for this Juneteenth celebration at Lefferts Historic House is “Rise in Spirit.”

Enjoy performances by African dancers and drummers from the Asase Yaa Youth Ensemble, IET Band jazz quartet, tap dancer Joseph Webb, the St. Paul’s Baptist Church gospel choir and theatrical readings by Sharon Gordon. Alliance educators will also provide cooking demonstrations, historic games and more.

The Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to its core tenets to enrich, educate and entertain. They aspire to empower and strengthen youth by offering them an opportunity to learn, study and experience the history, movement and beauty of African Diaspora dance, music and culture at its highest level. They are entering their third decade, and oversee a School of the Arts, the Asase Yaa African American Dance Theater, an award-winning professional dance ensemble, a Children’s Summer Art Camps, and an Arts Outreach program that services public and charter schools throughout the greater New York area. Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation also curates original programming and produces an array of special events and  concerts

The Juneteenth celebration is part of ReImagine Lefferts, an initiative funded through a Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation that is re-envisioning the mission and programming of the museum to explore the stories of resistance and resilience by the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans who were enslaved by the Lefferts family. The event is also funded in part through support by NYU Brooklyn.

Juneteenth + One Love Little Caribbean Day
Sunday, June 18, 12 – 5 pm, Free
Lefferts Historic House 
Learn More + RSVP
Prospect Park Alliance invites you to pull up to Juneteenth, I AM CaribBEING style, with DJ sets and games presented by Fun With Friends and Little Caribbean artisans.

Steelpan Day
Sunday, June 25th, 5 pm – 7 pm, Free
Lefferts Historic House 
Learn More + RSVP
Prospect Park Alliance and I AM CaribBEING invite you to celebrate Brooklyn’s Steelpan Day with live performances by Hearts of Steel alongside steelpan musicians from Little Caribbean and beyond.

I AM CaribBEING is supported by NYC Department of Small Business Services, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council for the Arts, Con Edison, TD Bank and KeySpan.

c. Obed Obwoge

Lefferts Ribbon Cutting

May 19, 2023

Prospect Park Alliance President Morgan Monaco and NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue joined elected officials, civic leaders and other community members to celebrate the restoration and reopening of Lefferts Historic House, Prospect Park’s 18th-century Flatbush farmhouse museum, which is jointly operated by the Alliance, the nonprofit that sustains the park, and the Historic House Trust.

Through $2.5 million in funding from the Speaker and Brooklyn Delegation of the New York City Council, Prospect Park Alliance undertook a major restoration of Lefferts Historic House. In timing with the restoration, the Alliance launched ReImagine Lefferts, an initiative funded through a Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation that is re-envisioning the mission and programming of the museum to explore the stories of resistance and resilience by the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans who were enslaved by the Lefferts family.

Lefferts Historic House is one of the most visited historic house museums in New York City, and features a working garden, historic artifacts, and indoor and outdoor exhibits. To celebrate the reopening of the house, Prospect Park Alliance will present a Pinkster Celebration on Sunday, May 21, with Chief Baba Neil Clarke and the Pinkster Players and friends featuring musical performances, storytelling, games and food related to this historic celebration of Africans in New York dating back to the time of slavery.

Learn more about our Pinkster event, and RSVP! 

“Prospect Park Alliance is grateful to the City and the Mellon Foundation for providing us with the funding to restore and reinvent our historic house museum,” said Morgan Monaco, Prospect Park Alliance President and Park Administrator. “Through ReImagine Lefferts, we are engaging the public around the ongoing legacies of dispossession and enslavement in Brooklyn and beyond, and I’m honored to be ushering in this new era of recognition and celebration of the narratives and histories that have been ignored for centuries. I am looking forward to working with our partners to make the museum a place for healing and a forum for thoughtful dialogue for our community.”

“By exploring the realities of expropriation and enslavement, the restoration of the Lefferts Historic House opens up avenues for dialogue, reflection, and a deeper understanding of the uncomfortable truths embedded within this site’s history. Prospect Park Alliance and the Historic House Trust’s unwavering dedication to the restoration and revitalization of this iconic landmark strengthens our connection to the past, enriches our present, and shapes a more inclusive and culturally vibrant future for Prospect Park and beyond,” said Comptroller Brad Lander, who helped to advocate for funding for the restoration while serving in the New York City Council.

“Thanks to our partners at Prospect Park Alliance and Historic House Trust, Lefferts Historic House has undergone a tremendous renovation, while honoring its historic past,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “New Yorkers will benefit immensely from this preserved site and its greater mission, which through ReImagine Lefferts, places the stories of those previously untold on center stage. Visitors have so much to learn from our historic sites and how their legacies continue to impact and resonate with our world today.”

“In order to meaningfully address the legacy of slavery, and its indelible impact on our society, we must invest in opportunities to learn about our history,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “I’m proud to have secured significant funding to restore the Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park. New Yorkers will now be able to visit the historic house museum to learn about the history of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose ancestral land Prospect Park is sited on, and the people who were enslaved by the Lefferts family. Our progress as a society is contingent upon us knowing our history, and I look forward to our continued work with the Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks to create more educational opportunities for all.”

“As one of the most visited historic house museums in our City, the story Lefferts Historic House tells is important. Now, the museum will tell the full story of our borough’s ugly and painful underbelly. This truth-telling begins the process of restoring dignity to the communities our city has long glazed over— our Indigenous and Black sisters and brothers who have never received proper acknowledgement or apology for the deep injustices inflicted upon them,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “I’m happy that the Lefferts Historic House is beginning this retelling of history and hope it will spark conversation over how we as a borough can continue to account for our past. Thank you to the Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks for making this reimagining possible.”

“Today, as we gather beneath the historic roof of Lefferts House, we celebrate the power of preservation and community,” said Council Member Rita Joseph. In this moment of restoration’s completion, let us honor the rich heritage of our past, embrace the beauty of our present, and build a future that cherishes our shared history and diverse traditions. Together, we create a tapestry of unity, resilience, and joy that will continue to inspire generations to come.”

“As Executive Director of the Historic House Trust of New York City and Director of Historic Houses at NYC Parks, I have the great privilege of working with community partners like Prospect Park Alliance who are doing groundbreaking work to shed light on previously undertold stories and accurately reflect the history and culture of our diverse city,” said Meredith Sorin Horsford, Executive Director, Historic House Trust. “The Historic House Trust and our 23 partner historic sites have an opportunity to focus on deepening our collective understanding of history. ReImagine Lefferts is an initiative that exemplifies the strength of community dialogue, and the impact of listening, engaging, and responding.”

In June, the Alliance will host Caribbean-American Heritage Month and Juneteenth celebrations, and will open for regular operating hours starting in July. Learn more about Lefferts events and programs.

Background on Restoration
Lefferts Historic House, which is almost 250 years old, was originally located just blocks from the Prospect Park on Flatbush Avenue (near Maple Street), and moved to its current site in 1917. After three centuries, and much wear and tear, the 1783 Dutch-American-style house was in need of critical restoration. Peeling paint and poor drainage had contributed to damage of the exterior wood shingles, windows, trim, columns and ornamental details. Gutters and rainwater leaders were displaced and not functionally draining. The cedar shingle roof was damaged and covered in moss, and the house’s three chimneys were crumbling. Structural elements of the porch and first floor were no longer able to support the load of visitors. Restoration included replacing the historic cedar-shingled roof, a meticulous process of craftsmanship due to the steep eaves of the roof (Lefferts is one of last remaining examples of an h-frame house with a gambrel roof); renovating the wood-shingled exterior, making structural improvements to the interior, replacing the house’s mechanical systems, and improving surrounding lighting and paths. The Alliance was recognized with a 2023 Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award for this restoration project, the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s highest honor for outstanding preservation.

“I want to congratulate Prospect Park Alliance on their work to restore the Lefferts Historic House not only as a point of important history, but also to ensure we tell the stories of Brooklyn’s – and America’s – indigenous and enslaved people more accurately and more completely,” said Congressman Dan Goldman. “Black and Indigenous history is American history, and they are Brooklyn’s history as well. I was excited to get a preview of this historic restoration last month and I look forward to visiting the site now that it is fully open to the public. Prospect Park is a national treasure and I am grateful for the important work of the Prospect Park Alliance.”

“The reopening of Lefferts Historic House marks a significant milestone and paves the way for dialogue, reflection, and a more inclusive future for Prospect Park and beyond,” said Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie. “The restoration efforts, coupled with the ReImagine Lefferts initiative, demonstrate Prospect Park Alliance’s commitment to honoring the stories of resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people and the enslaved Africans who called this part of Brooklyn home. I’m honored to represent Brooklyn’s Backyard in Albany and am proud of this collaboration that reflects the diversity and strength of our community.”

Work will continue on the house in the coming years thanks to Assembly Members Bobby Carroll and Brian Cunningham, who have allocated funding to restore the Lefferts grounds and make critical structural improvements to the house’s second floor.

“I am proud to dedicate $500,000 in capital funding from the New York State Assembly to help complete the restoration of the grounds at Lefferts Historic House Museum,” said Assembly Member Robert Carroll. “This vital restoration is critical to preserving an important part of Brooklyn’s history and to help tell the complete story of the Lefferts Historic House. That story unfortunately includes previously untold stories of dispossession and enslavement.”

“Prospect Park is the premiere outdoor space of Brooklyn, and the Lefferts Historic House is one of its defining features,” said Assembly Member Brian A. Cunningham. “The re-opening of this historical landmark in partnership with the launch of ReImagine Lefferts ensures a more accurate historical accounting of the Lefferts family legacy and illuminates untold stories of the relationship between the Lenapehoking people and early European Settlers. This project is a testament to the power of public-private partnerships that not only restore a piece of American history, but ensure it tells a more truthful, accurate story about our past, so that we may all learn how to create a more just, equitable future.”

Prospect Park Alliance has launched ReImagine Lefferts through a prestigious Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation. ReImagine Lefferts will re-envision the mission and programming of the museum to explore the stories of resistance and resilience by the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans who were enslaved by the Lefferts family. Through this initiative, the Alliance seeks to engage the public in thoughtful dialogue about the ongoing legacies of dispossession and enslavement in Brooklyn and beyond.

c. Martin Seck

Arch Restoration Begins

May 3, 2023

Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit organization that operates Prospect Park in partnership with the City, has begun work on the restoration of the iconic Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch at Grand Army Plaza. The restoration is part of a larger project to restore Grand Army Plaza, the formal entrance to Prospect Park, and its surrounding berms, through $8.9 million in Mayoral funding.

“We are thrilled with the planned restoration of the historic arch at Grand Army Plaza, which has served as a Brooklyn icon and welcomed visitors to Prospect Park for more than 130 years,” said NYC Parks Commissioner, Sue Donoghue. “The first meaningful restoration work on the arch in decades, this project and will clean and repair the exterior, and add improved, energy-efficient lighting to better showcase the arch’s historic elements. The restored arch will serve as the perfect complement to the broader restoration of Grand Army Plaza.”

“The beloved Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch at Grand Army Plaza is a Brooklyn icon and an important gathering space for dialogue and protests that advance social justice. We are so grateful to the Mayor’s Office for providing the funding to make this project possible. Prospect Park Alliance is excited to restore this landmark in all its glory so it can serve as a welcoming beacon and essential civic space for our community for generations to come.” said Morgan Monaco, Prospect Park Alliance President.

Prospect Park creators Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed Grand Army Plaza as the grand formal entrance of Prospect Park in 1867. In 1889, the plaza became the site of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, which was dedicated in 1892 to commemorate those who fought with the Union troops during the Civil War. The arch was designed by John H. Duncan with sculptures by Frederick MacMonnies, two preeminent figures of their times. On top of the arch is a quadriga of Columbia, representing the United States, surrounded by two winged Victories who trumpet her arrival. Smaller sculptures mounted on pedestals depict soldiers and sailors.

The Arch was landmarked in 1975, when the structure was in severe disrepair, and in 1976 Columbia literally fell from her chariot. The City undertook a restoration of the Arch in 1977-79, with subsequent work in 1989 and the mid-1990s. In 1999, the Arch’s bronze statuary groupings were restored by the NYC Parks Monuments Conservation Program.

This restoration is the first since the mid-1990s, and includes replacing the arch’s roof; cleaning and repointing the brick and stone structure; repairing interior elements, including historic iron staircases that lead up to the roof; and improving the exterior lighting to better showcase the historic elements of the arch and its statuary while making the lighting more environmentally friendly by utilizing energy efficient technology.

Restoration of Grand Army Plaza, and the landscaped berms that frame the plaza on its east, west and north sides, began in Fall 2022. This work includes removing invasive plants, shrubs and trees that are in poor condition and adding native trees and shrubs that provide interest and color throughout the seasons. The Alliance will also replace the existing chain link fence with low, decorative steel fencing, and restore the broken bluestone and granite paving around Bailey Fountain and the John F. Kennedy Memorial so that it is ADA accessible.

Work on the Plaza and Berms is slated for completion in Fall 2023. The Arch restoration is expected to take 12 months, and reopen to the public in Spring 2024. During the period where the arch and plaza are simultaneously being restored (through Fall 2023), access will be curtailed at the Arch, and the public is requested to utilize the crosswalks and pedestrian pathways at Plaza Streets East and West.

Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s Capital Projects.

c. Paul Martinka

Play Ball! Alliance Restores Long Meadow Ballfields 2+3

March 31, 2023

Prospect Park Alliance President Morgan Monaco, NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, Comptroller Brad Lander, Borough Parks Commissioner Martin Maher and Prospect Park Baseball Association President Eddie Albert took part in a much-anticipated ribbon cutting: the official opening of the newly restored ballfields 2 and 3 on the Long Meadow in Prospect Park.

The fields were restored by Prospect Park Alliance through funding from Comptroller Brad Lander while serving as Council Member in District 39, and are the final two of seven ballfields on the Long Meadow that have been restored by the Alliance through funding from the City Council and Mayor. The restored fields are reseeded and have new clay infields and drainage to keep them in good playing condition. The restoration also included newly paved pathways, benches and drinking fountains, and dedicated clay storage bins and shaded dugouts.

The restoration of the final two Long Meadow Ballfields mark the conclusion of an important improvement to Brooklyn’s Backyard,” said Morgan Monaco, Prospect Park Alliance President. “These fields are vital recreational amenities for all of Brooklyn, serving thousands of youth each year, and we are so grateful for the support of Brad Lander, our partners at NYC Parks and all our local elected officials whose support enables the Alliance to sustain Prospect Park for the millions of community members who live and play here.

“With the completion of the last two of the historic Long Meadow’s seven ballfields, Prospect Park is a home run for baseball players of all ages,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “I thank the Prospect Park Alliance for having the vision and leading the way on this needed project. Brooklyn’s Backyard is ready to play ball!”

“I’m excited to say ‘play ball’ once again on the newly restored Long Meadow Ballfields, thanks to the hard work of the Prospect Park Alliance. Investing in our parks and recreational spaces is a necessity for the health and well-being of our communities,” said Comptroller Brad Lander.

“I’m so happy to see the Prospect Park ballfields open just in time for spring,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif. “Thanks to the funding for my predecessor, Comptroller Lander, our community will have fully renovated fields to enjoy this summer. I’m looking forward to visiting the park when it’s warmer and see teams playing on the new ballfields!”

“This was not simply renovation, it was smart renovation. By turning the diamonds into all clay infields with improved drainage, grooming the fields for play will be easier and more games will be played. By resizing the clay infields, all ages will have greater access to play. This is a perfect example of how great things can result from a partnership between dedicated public officials and the people they serve,” said Eddie Albert, President, Prospect Park Baseball Association.

Since the early years of Prospect Park, in the late 19th century, the Long Meadow has been a beloved destination for sports and play. Enjoyed first by croquet clubs, then for lawn tennis and today, America’s ultimate pastime: baseball. With increasing demand overwhelming the nearby Parade Ground fields, five baseball diamonds and space for football and soccer were constructed on this portion of the Long Meadow in 1959, with concrete and brick bleachers and surrounded by fencing, both of which interrupted views down the length of the meadow.

In 2011, Prospect Park Alliance created a new master plan to restore the fields in the Long Meadow. This ribbon cutting and the restoration of fields 2 and 3 marks the completion of the restoration of all seven of the Long Meadow ballfields and kicks-off right on time for the start of the Baseball season, where Brooklynites will enjoy all that the newly restored fields have to offer.

Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s Capital Projects.

c. Prospect Park Alliance Archives/Bob Levine Collection

Black History Spotlight: Flatbush Connections

February 8, 2023

As we celebrate Black History Month, Prospect Park Alliance is engaging the public around ReImagine Lefferts, an initiative to re-envision the mission and programming of the Lefferts Historic House museum to further focus on the stories of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rest upon and the Africans who were enslaved by the Lefferts family. The initiative recently received a prestigious Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation.

On Saturday, February 11, Prospect Park Alliance is hosting a ReImagine Lefferts Community Conversation to share ongoing research and seek public guidance and feedback to inform our planning. To date, we have identified 25 people enslaved by the Lefferts family at the house between 1776 and 1827, including a man named Isaac.

This research would not have been possible without the support of civic leaders in Flatbush and beyond, such as Shanna Sabio, co-founder of GrowHouse Community Design + Development Group and trustee of the Flatbush African Burial Ground Coalition, a Black-led, multiracial coalition that works to preserve the Flatbush African Burial Ground from further desecration. Sabio developed a walking tour of Flatbush that explores Isaac’s story. Sabio shared her insight on the many connections between Prospect Park Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts Initiative and the Flatbush African Burial Ground Coalition’s ongoing dedication to sharing the stories of the resistance and resilience of those enslaved in Brooklyn.

A 1905 postcard of the Lefferts Historic House in its original location on Flatbush Avenue before it was moved to Prospect Park in 1918.  Photo courtesy of Prospect Park Archives/Bob Levine Collection.

“It’s fairly likely that people who were enslaved at the Lefferts Homestead also interred their loved ones at the Flatbush African Burial Ground,” shares Sabio. “Just as the Lefferts House is undergoing a revitalization and will become a site where people can learn about the complex and often painful history of Brooklyn, the Flatbush African Burial Ground should be a site of pilgrimage and remembrance.”

Isaac was sold by Jacob Bergen in Red Hook to John Lefferts for $250 in March of 1818. The high price suggests that Issac was extremely skilled and that Lefferts may have purchased Isaac to run his 250-acre farm in Flatbush. However, less than three months after his purchase, Isaac escaped enslavement along with his wife Betsey and her three sons Harry, Stephen, and Joshua, who were enslaved by the Martense family across the street from the Lefferts’ farm.

Archival document of Isaac's Bill of Sale.

The Bill of Isaac’s Sale for $250 as documented between Jacob Bergen and John Lefferts.

[Isaac] Bill of Sale, Jacob Bergen and John Lefferts, March 10, 1818; Lefferts Family papers, ARC.145, Box 1, Folder 9; Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History.

Both ReImagine Lefferts and the Flatbush African Burial Ground Coalition seek to engage the public in a thoughtful dialogue about the legacy of enslavement and exploitation. On the necessity to share the stories of those enslaved on this land, Sabio says “Isaac’s story is a great example of the ways that enslaved people resisted their oppression. His labor, along with the labor of all those enslaved at the Lefferts House and throughout Flatbush, helped to cement the power and influence of their enslavers, and yet their stories are generally left untold. Unearthing, preserving, and sharing these important histories helps make sure that we learn the lessons of the past so we’re not doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes.”

The Flatbush African Burial Ground Coalition’s walking tours delve further into Isaac’s story and its profound significance. Learn more about the historic connections between the burial ground and the Flatbush community at the Coalition’s upcoming Community Day of Action and Remembrance on Saturday, February 25. Attendees will clean up the perimeter of the burial ground and have the chance to join the first walking tour of the year to learn more about the lives and stories of those enslaved in the area.

Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s work to re-envision the mission and programming at the Lefferts Historic House to recognize its role as a site of dispossession and enslavement.

c. Mary Keehbauch

Solar Innovations Take On Invasive Plants

February 7, 2023

Have you spotted plastic tarps in certain areas of the park and wondered why? Fear not–they’re not picnic remnants or litter left behind. The tarps are an eco-friendly approach to fighting invasive plants without the use of harmful chemicals. It’s just one of the many ways that Prospect Park Alliance’s Landscape Management team has deployed environmentally friendly and innovative approaches to keep the park’s natural areas green and vibrant; including the use of goats to clear invasive weeds, ladybugs to tackle a harmful insect infestation, and layers of cardboard and mulch to ward off opportunistic plants of concern.

This season, the team has been hard at work implementing a technique called solarization to help keep the park’s landscape healthy and resilient with strategically placed sheets of plastic.

Solarization at work at the Children’s Pool in Prospect Park

Solarization at work at the Children’s Pool in the Northeast corner of Brooklyn’s Backyard. Photo courtesy of Mary Keehbauch.

The team charts out a customized approach based on the specific needs of each landscape. “The plastic color and thickness is determined by the location and the target plants. Is it sunny or shady? Upland or near the watercourse?  Is it a small enough area that we will be successful with this method? How will it look or impact the experience of park users?” says Mary Keehbauch, Prospect Park Alliance’s Deputy Director of Landscape Management, on the meticulous planning behind this method. “Often, the invasive plants that are targeted would be nearly impossible to eradicate using traditional manual methods. Solarization is an opportunity to reclaim small target areas, causing less disturbance and, eventually, a lot less labor.”

Solarization at work protecting Prospect Park's natural landscapes.

Because of these shrub stumps’ location at the top of a steep slope, the team used solarization to avoid destabilizing the slope with digging. Photo courtesy of Mary Keehbauch.

At the onset, solarization is an intense labor of love and requires an area to either be completely cleared of all organic material, or in the case of the tall reeds near the lake, flattened with plywood. “Thankfully, we have very willing and devoted volunteers and staff that help prepare and install the appropriate type of plastic,” says Keehbauch. Thanks to the hard work of these staff and volunteers, native plants have been successfully reintroduced to the south Lakeshore area and parts of the Lullwater.

The solarization of a given area can span anywhere between two months to two or more years, and, while restoration will be ongoing, this technique has already helped slow the growth and minimize the presence of invasives in the park. Once an area is cleared or flattened, the team uses either black or white plastic to reap the benefits of solarization. Black plastic is used to block light and heat the roots of an invasive plant once it has been cut down, while clear plastic is used in areas of direct sunlight to stop the plant’s growth, heat up the soil to destroy the roots and rid the soil of any remaining seeds. The end result is soil that is ready to be planted with native, pollinator-friendly plants that will help Prospect Park’s ecosystem thrive.

The technique is currently underway in multiple areas in Brooklyn’s Backyard and is focused on suppressing Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria) and Common Reed (Phragmites australis). All three of these invasive plants spread quickly and form dense clusters that can outcompete and eventually replace the park’s native plants. This work allows native plants to grow and thrive, which promotes the longevity of Prospect Park’s landscape and helps protect the habitat of the countless wildlife that call the park home.

Keep an eye out for the innovative ways Prospect Park Alliance works to tackle invasive plants throughout the park and learn more about how the Alliance is sustaining the environment. 

Get to Know Morgan Monaco

January 18, 2023

Morgan Monaco, the new Prospect Park Alliance President and Park Administrator has a long history in the parks world and a storied record of leadership in support of her community. Most recently, Monaco served as Executive Director of the Red Hook Initiative, a youth and community development nonprofit impacting the 6,500 residents of the Red Hook Houses, Brooklyn’s largest public housing development. Earlier in her career, Monaco served two tenures at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, first as Director of the MillionTreesNYC Initiative and later as Director of Stewardship for Forestry, Horticulture and Natural Resources. Monaco began her career at StoryCorps, a national oral history project designed to build connections between people and share the stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs.

Monaco currently lives in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn and her family is an avid user of Prospect Park. As she begins the new role and leads Brooklyn’s Backyard into its next chapter, we chatted with Monaco about her vision for the future of the park, favorite spots and more.

What are you most looking forward to as you begin your role?

I am most looking forward to learning more about everything the Prospect Park team, both NYC Parks and Alliance staff, does to maintain and sustain Brooklyn’s Backyard. There’s so much that goes on “behind the scenes” that may not be apparent to the average park visitor, and I’m excited to learn in-depth how the park operates throughout the year. I am also particularly excited about joining the team at this moment in time. There has never been more interest in and use of the park, and I’m excited to talk to our community about why Prospect Park is special for them, and how the park has taken on new meaning during the pandemic.

With a background in environmental sustainability and social justice, how do you think Prospect Park can be a both thought and action leader in these areas?  

I think it’s important to start from a place of seeing sustainability and social justice as symbiotic. Sustainability is not just a luxury that gets added on top, but is deeply integrated into the work we do as a society to promote equity and social justice. I see access to open space as one of the core pillars, among others such as education, housing, health and safety, that help transition people from surviving to thriving.

Over the past two years in particular, we’ve seen how important the park has been for our  health and wellbeing. I want to work with our talented team, as well as our community, to continue to lean into that and think about more opportunities for New Yorkers to access health services in the park. There is widespread evidence of the positive health impacts that come from being in nature, and I’m interested in building upon that to establish connections between our green space and access to health care and social services.

You’ve had a long history with parks and green space in the area. What does it mean to you to be returning to this field?

I’m incredibly honored to be coming back to the parks world, especially during this moment in time when New Yorkers have a renewed appreciation for the value of open spaces. I grew up in New York City’s parks and this work is incredibly personal for me.

Since leaving the parks world, I’ve had a kid, which has added a new dimension to how I use open space. As a parent, it’s so important for my son to grow up in Prospect Park and have a connection to nature as part of his experience growing up in New York City. I am also grateful for how much more awareness there is about climate change and the ways in which individual actions have an impact on our global environment. I look forward to being back in a community with people who inherently understand that core value and are committed to being part of the solution.

How do you define success for the Alliance?

I think success can be defined in small and big ways. As an organization, it’s important to me that we have clear organization-wide goals that everyone can feel a connection to and support from their vantage point. Those goals should be informed by individual goals for each area of focus in our work, such as maintaining a certain level of excellence for our forest restoration work, or reaching a certain number of young people through our environmental education programs.

At the end of the day, it is most important to me that we have a clear focus for the year and work toward reaching our goals. I see my role as helping to be a galvanizing force that holds all of the goals together and helps to chart out a new strategic plan for Prospect Park’s next chapter. I look forward to working with our team and with park users to develop our new strategic plan.

What is a favorite memory you’ve made in Prospect Park?

This is such a hard question! I’ve had so many important memories in Prospect Park that it’s hard to choose just one. I got engaged on the steps of the Picnic House, my son learned how to ride his scooter right by Vanderbilt Playground, we’ve made snow angels and snow people…so many amazing things happened in my life in Prospect Park. I would say there isn’t just one memory but rather decades of wonder and love for such a beautiful and sacred space.