Prospect Park’s 585-acres constitute the heart of Brooklyn. From the undulating greens of the Long Meadow to the parks’ sculpted water features, it is the perfect place to get lost in the wilderness, right in the middle of New York City.
It was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, who had just designed Central Park. While that park is revered around the world, Prospect Park is a considered by
many landscape enthusiasts to be their masterpiece.
Free from many of the geographical constraints and political interferences that hampered their design of Central Park, Olmstead and Vaux could design the park as they saw fit.
We took a day trip to see how it fares in the fall. It turns out, even with the chilly weather, there isn’t a better place to have a picnic and watch the leaves turn.
The main entrance to Prospect Park faces the stunning Grand Army Plaza's Soldiers' And Sailors' Arch. It is adjacent to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, the flagship Brooklyn Public Library, and the Brooklyn Museum.
When you walk past the entrance, you come onto the Long Meadow, a 90-acre field of rolling meadows that disappear into the horizon.
The Long Meadow is the perfect place to escape the city and go for a run. Many school sports teams come to Prospect Park to practice or warm up.
It's also an incredible place to take a stroll or people watch. Olmstead and Vaux designed the park to have an irregular organic shape so that there are no dead spaces.
The Picnic House has been Prospect Park's most popular wedding venue for 100 years. It looks out onto the Long Meadow.
Towards the end of the Long Meadow are athletic fields that are in use even in the cold. There are seven baseball fields, a tennis center, and numerous basketball courts and soccer fields.
The wide open spaces make it ideal for children to play independently while their parents can picnic from a distance.
The Zucker Natural Exploration Area is a natural playground designed in Vaux and Olmstead's rustic tradition. It only opened a month ago and it reuses many of the trees damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Much of Prospect Park's signature architecture is viewable while riding on the 3.35 mile Park Drive.
The Prospect Park Boathouse houses the nation's first urban Audobon center, dedicated to conserving wildlife. Built in 1905, it is also a very popular wedding venue.
Overlooking the Lullwater, it is one of the most popular places to fish. There are 18 species of fish in Prospect Park's waters. One frequent fisherman told us that Prospect Park fishing is great practice for going to lakes upstate.
It's also a great place to relax and gather your thoughts. Prospect Park tends to be far less crowded than Central Park, even in summer.
Birdwatchers come to catch some of the 250 species of birds in the park. Some of the rarest species are the Pied-billed Grebe, the American Bittern, and the Saw-whet Owl. Late fall is the perfect time for novice birdwatching because bare trees make it easier to spot birds.
Prospect Park is full of hiking trails that take you through the Midwood, Brooklyn's oldest remaining forest. Olmstead and Vaux preserved the forest when they designed Prospect Park.
The Ravine is considered 'the heart' of Prospect Park. It is the deepest part of the park. The waterway flows from the waterfall to the Boathouse.
The Ravine was designed to mimic being in the center of the Adirondacks. You can't hear any sounds of the city here.
The Nethermead Arch is one of the five arches in the park. Vaux designed the arches to blend into the rustic landscape.
Horseback riding is considered a tradition of the park. There is a 3.5 mile bridle path that takes you through the center of the park, with Kensington Stables is located on the edge of the park.
First planted in 1872, the Camperdown Elm is the most famous tree in the park. It has a genetic mutation that causes it to grow horizontally rather than vertically.
The 12-acres Prospect Park Zoo may be small but with 150 animal species and a low admission price, it has remained a popular destination.
Lakeside, a new $US74 million ice skating rink, is set to open in December. It replaces the Wollman Rink with a brand new year-round complex, complete with a cafe, observation decks, and a water play area for children.
Prospect Park really comes alive in the summer with the Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series at the Prospect Park Bandshell. Produced by BRIC, the majority of the concerts are free and have featured artists such as Ben Folds, The Roots, and Patty Griffin.
At Battle Pass, George Washington's Army chopped down a massive oak tree -- the Dongan Oak -- to block a mercenary army three times their size during the Battle of Long Island in 1776. There are tributes to the Revolutionary and Civil War all over the park.
There are seven busts of famous artists near the Music Pagoda, including Washington Irving, Mozart, and Beethoven.
There is no shortage of photo opportunities. Just when you think you've seen everything, something else pops up.
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