Arts & Culture

Brooklyn Historical Society Exhibit Traces Prospect Park’s 150 Years

Carriages at Grand Army Plaza, 1900 (Courtesy of Prospect Park Alliance)

In honor of Prospect Park’s 150th Anniversary, the Prospect Park Alliance is joining forces with the Brooklyn Historical Society to present The Means of a Ready Escape: Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, an exhibition highlighting the park’s fascinating history.

On view at Brooklyn Historical Society’s 128 Pierrepont Street location in Brooklyn Heights, the exhibit illustrates the story behind Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s transformation of forest and swampland into the “urban oasis” that Brooklynites know and love today.

Olmsted, Vaux & Company were officially hired in 1866 to transform 585 acres of fields and rocky farmland into a lush, public greenspace including the 90-acre Long Meadow, the woodland Ravine, walkways, scenic lookouts, and a 60-acre Lake.

Sheep on the Long Meadow, 1900 (Courtesy of Prospect Park Alliance)

Olmsted’s mission was to create “simple, temperate, healthful, rural and domestic forms of recreation” for the borough’s “overworked inhabitants,” according to the Prospect Park Alliance.

The exhibition presents the Park’s history in a series of panels as well as more than 150 artifacts and documents including postcards, notebooks, posters, and photographs. Visitors can see Olmsted and Vaux’s original plan of the Park, vintage items depicting scenes of the Park, hand-drawn renderings from the 1990s of the Park’s woodlands restoration, and an architectural model of the award-winning Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside which debuted in 2013.

Family on Swan Boat, circa 1890 (Courtesy of Prospect Park Alliance)

A screening of Rebecca Messner’s documentary Olmsted and America’s Urban Parks will take place on Monday, July 24, and Prospect Park History Tours will be offered on alternate Sundays and select Friday evenings until October (for schedule and registration go to

To learn more about the exhibition and Prospect Park’s history, check out the Brooklyn Historical Society and Prospect Park Alliance websites.

The Means of a Ready Escape: Brooklyn’s Prospect Park
Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street (at Clinton Street), Brooklyn Heights
On view from July 13, 2017 – July 13, 2018


Comment policy


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here