Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s biggest public space and home to the borough’s only natural forest, was a sequel for Olmsted and Vaux after their revolutionary creation Central Park. But can these two landscape architects still work together or will their egos get in the way? And what happens to their dream when McKim, Mead and White and Robert Moses get to it?
The area of Prospect Park in 1776. This spot, called Flatbush Pass (and later Battle Pass), was the scene of a violent clash between Continental Army soldiers and Hessians employed by the British army. Part of the reason the park was located here was to preserve this hallowed historical war spot.
Egbert Viele’s proposed ‘Mount Prospect Park’ blossomed around Flatbush Avenue, which would be arched with pedestrian bridges. This plan would have retained Mount Prospect. But what kind of a park has a major thoroughfare cutting right through it.
An artist’s depiction of Prospect’s tableaux-style natural foliage. The landscape architects wanted to ‘augment’ the natural beauty of the area. That augmentation included over 70,000 new trees and shrubs.
Arches, bridges and overpasses weave throughout the park, often creating fairytale like settings. Photo, taken in 1887 by Wallace G. Levison