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Friday, November 5, 2010

Prospect Park, Early Fall

Though I now live in Manhattan I was a longtime resident of Park Slope and came to know Brooklyn's most famous park very well. Brooklynites like to say that after Olmstead and Vaux got the kinks worked out on Central Park, they perfected their vision with Prospect Park. This 585-acre oasis certainly is a wonder.

On a nice day, you can always count on a bustle of activity by the "main" entrance, by Grand Army Plaza, where these serpentine decorative planters stand guard. (You're supposed to touch a snake for good luck before you go into the park, according to custom.*)

All told I've probably spent several weeks of my life in Prospect Park. New Year's Eve fireworks; an Audobon Society "bat walk" (we saw three kinds of bats); concerts at the bandshell (Richard Thompson in the rain being the most memorable); hikes through the Ramble and around Condom Wrapper Grove; spotting rabbits on Lookout Hill; exploring the local Revolutionary War history; paddleboating; communing with the Camperdown Elm (here's Marianne Moore's poem about it, and here's a bit of history; see below for photos); sledding down a snowy hill on a shred of plastic garbage can cover; my list goes on.

The park was conceived way back in 1859, and James Stranahan, President of the Brooklyn Board of Park Commissioners at the time, is rightly regarded as the "Father of Prospect Park." He is honored with a statue at the entrance, and looks like a kindly old man. More information on Stranahan here, and just about everything you'd need to know about the park here. Below are some images from a visit in early Fall. Only a few trees here and there were starting to turn.

This unofficial trail runs along the park's eastern edge, parallel to Flatbush Avenue

One of the park's many arches

It's beautiful by the lake in late afternoon

Ducks dig it

The Boathouse is the park's most striking building

Here's that Camperdown Elm

and a peek inside it

Could Monet have done better?

On the base of the memorial to the Maryland 400, whose brave stand enabled Washington's army to escape to fight another day

Clearing dead trees on Lookout Hill, victims of recent violent weather

The Lake from above—you can almost imagine you're in the wilderness

A meeting of the minds

A taste of autumn

Finally, for the younger set: I don't know how you play on this, but it looks cool

*It's a custom I made up. Please participate, and help establish my immortality.


  1. "Finally, for the younger set: I don't know how you play on this, but it looks cool"

    Kid don't play it. They play in in it, it is a fountain in the summer. So yes it is cool.

  2. The last picture is a sculpture not to play ON it. During summer water comes out of the "pony tail" and the kids have a lot of fun and have the chance to cool down.

  3. It's a sprinkler...

  4. It's a Harp Sprinkler and the water comes straight down as the strings.

  5. Thanks to all of you for remedying my fountain ignorance!