Prospect Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the duo who designed Central Park.
The creation of a Brooklyn park was authorized in 1859 but proper planning was delayed by the Civil War. Olmsted and Vaux finally got to the drawing board in 1865 and Prospect Park’s construction was completed by 1873.
The plan divided the park into three area: meadows, forests and bodies of water. The final product was 526 landmarked acres of fields, woods, lakes and trails with a skating rink and a carousel.
How Prospect Heights Got Its Name
Before there was a Prospect Park, there was a Mount Prospect, also called Prospect Hill, just on the eastern side of Flatbush Ave.
One definition of the word “prospect” is a place offering a broad view, and Prospect Hill was surely that. It is the second highest point in Brooklyn (after Battle Hill in Green-Wood Cemetery) and it played a major role in the Revolutionary War Battle of Brooklyn when it was a lookout point for Continental Army troops.
Prospect Hill gave its name to Brooklyn’s famous park as well as the neighborhood it’s in: Prospect Heights.
Incidentally, Prospect Heights was one of several names first suggested for the neighborhood that is today Park Slope. It also once shared the name Gowanus Heights with Prospect Park, Greenwood and Bay Ridge.
Most of the neighborhood developed after Prospect Park was finished in 1873. By the 1890s, the neighborhood had the name Prospect Heights and its brownstones, town houses, and apartment buildings began going up at the turn of the century.
Today it boasts some of the city’s cultural treasures. Grand Army Plaza, where Prospect Park West, Flatbush Ave. and Eastern Parkway meet, has the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch honoring the troops of the Civil War, and the John F. Kennedy Memorial.
A triangular space bounded by Eastern Parkway, Washington Ave. and Flatbush Ave., is now home to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Public Library.
A portion of the neighborhood was developed for commercial and residential purposes, primarily over the Long Island Rail Road train yard, in the 2000s and 2010s. A key element in it is the Barclays Center sports arena, which opened in 2012. The area, adjacent to Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene, was originally known as Atlantic Yards but was renamed Pacific Park by the developers. It is often considered a neighborhood of its own.
Brooklyn-born Norm Goldstein is retired, after working 44 years for the Associated Press, the global news agency, where he served as a reporter, feature writer, editor, author and administrator. He also worked for AP as director of Educational Services and editor of the AP Stylebook.
He graduated from Brooklyn College and the Penn State Graduate School of Journalism.
He currently lives in Brooklyn Heights.