Brooklyn Prospect Park Walking Tour
This walking tour includes monuments, museums, and other points of interest throughout Brooklyn's Prospect Park.
Ebbets Field was the home to the Brooklyn Dodgers between 1913 and 1957. In the early 1900s, team owner Charlie Ebbets worked to create a more modern replacement for Washington Park, a wooden ballpark that could no longer accommodate the team and sport's growing fan base. Ebbets acquired bought parcels of land throughout the area, including a garbage dump called Pigtown--a reference to the practice of using urban garbage dumps as a place to raise and feed pigs. Construction of the stadium began in 1912. One year later, Pigtown had been transformed into Ebbets Field. Ebbets Field was one of the most iconic stadiums during baseball's golden age. It also hosted a succession of professional football franchises in the early years of the National Football League. The significance of Ebbets Field transcended the realm of sports when Jackie Robinson took the field on April 15, 1947, making him the first African-American Baseball player in Major League Baseball's modern age. After new team owner Walter O'Malley decided to move the team to Los Angeles, the Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field on September 24, 1957. The stadium was torn down three years later. Walter O'Malley's decision to remove the beloved team from Brooklyn remains the most notorious example of an owner moving a professional team in American sports history. To this day, Brooklyn residents view O'Malley as a villain, although many baseball historians insist that the story is more complicated, pointing to examples where O'Malley attempted to keep the team in Brooklyn.
What was once an ash dump in the late 1800s is now dozens of acres of horticultural mastery and education. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden was founded in 1910. It is located in the Prospect Park neighborhood. The Garden would have never been built if not for state legislation that set aside 39 acres of land specifically for a botanic garden. It has expanded over the years to include a variety of facilities and programs that showcase the best in urban horticultural as well as educational resources. Today, the Garden spans 52 acres.
The Brooklyn Museum, housed in a 560,000-square-foot, neoclassical beaux-arts building, is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country. Its world-renowned permanent collections range from ancient Egyptian masterpieces to contemporary art and represent a wide range of cultures. The museum is also New York City's third largest in physical size and holds an art collection with roughly 1.5 million works. The museum building has undergone near constant renovations since its construction completed in 1926, and is a shining example of modern and historical integration.
Often referred to as "Brooklyn’s Arc de Triomphe," this monument has stood at the main entrance of Prospect Park since 1892. The monument was built with the support of the Grand Army of the Republic, the leading fraternal organization for Union veterans. The monument demonstrates the Beaux-Arts style of architecture that was common for monuments of this type. Its grand arch is adorned with statues and reliefs. The monument, like many other Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monuments throughout the country, honors the memory and bravery of Civil War soldiers and sailors, but it also reflects the civic pride and optimism of many Americans at the turn-of-the-century. The monument was dedicated in 1892, with many of the statues and reliefs finished over the next six years.
The Dongan Oak Monument marks the place where American troops chopped down an oak tree and used it to obstruct the road in Brooklyn, slowing down British advancement in the 1776 Battle of Long Island. This event saved countless American lives by giving them time to escape. The Monument was built in 1922 by Frederick W. Ruckstull, and it is made out of granite with a bronze eagle atop it and bronze plaque attached.
The Prospect Park Zoo is one of four New York City zoos as well as the New York Aquarium operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society. The other New York City zoos are the Bronx Zoo, the Queens Zoo, and the Central Park Zoo. Together they attract more than 4 million visitors each year. The Prospect Park Zoo features a variety of exhibits, activities, and special events. It is open 365 days a year.
Leffert Pietersen's family was one of the first families from Europe to settle in Brooklyn when they purchased 58 acres of land there in 1687. The original home built on the property was destroyed by Colonial troops after the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776. The house was rebuilt in 1783, and the family continued to live there until 1918. In 1918, the Leffert family decided to move out of the house and sell it to the city of New York, who preserved it by moving the house to Prospect Park where it still resides as a museum.
The Boathouse on the Lullwater of the Lake is a two-story, classical Roman style building located on the eastern side of Prospect Park, Brooklyn in New York. Built in 1907, it served as a boathouse for many years but is now home to the Prospect Park Audubon Center. It is the first Audubon center in an urban park. It was named to National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The center's exhibits and free programs aim to educate children and the public at large about the park's natural diversity.
Located in the southeast corner of prospect park, Prospect Park War Memorial is an 18-foot wall with six plaques spanning the memorial's width of 35 feet. The monument seeks to honor the residents of Brooklyn who fought and died in Europe during the First World War. Sculptor Augustus Lukeman placed the Angel of Death embracing a disarmed soldier within the larger monument which was designed by architect Arthur Pickering. William H. Todd donated the funds to make the monument possible.
Prospect Park is filled with numerous architectural features to add interest to the park. Some of these serve very simple purposes, such as providing shelter from the heat or a sudden storm. Arguably the most charming of these is the Peristyle, or Grecian Shelter, which was built in 1905. It was designed by famed architect Stanford White, who was responsible for other structures in the park. The Peristyle was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.