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Prospect Park’s 150th anniversary celebration kicks off this weekend

Historic photos and several events commemorate the park’s history

Elizabeth Keegin Colley

The Prospect Park Alliance will kick off the 150th anniversary celebration of Prospect Park this weekend with a host of activities including a parade, several running and walking tours, and an exhibition ballgame, among others. The weekend’s celebration will serve as a precursor to the plethora of events the Alliance has planned in the upcoming months including concerts by the New York Philharmonic, a fundraising party on the boathouse, several site-specific art installations, and an exhibit at the Brooklyn Historical Society, celebrating the Park’s history.

“Prospect Park is one of New York City's jewels and a landmark in the life of my family,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said, in a statement. "Celebrating the park's 150th anniversary reminds me of being married there and the days I spent coaching baseball and taking my children to the playgrounds.”

The centerpiece of the weekend celebration is the parade and fair taking place on Saturday, April 1 (For a full list of the weekend’s events click here). Organized in collaboration with the Prospect Park Baseball Association, the parade, which will have over 1,000 youth league players, will march down Seventh Avenue along with marching bands and community leaders and make their way to the Long Meadow Ball Fields.

Martin Seck

Later in the morning, a historic baseball team, the Brooklyn Atlantics will play an exhibition game following 1860s rules (the decade that the park first opened). The fair taking place simultaneously can be accessed through the Bartel-Pritchard Entrance. Smorgasburg has also tied its opening with the 150th anniversary celebrations and will open in the Park on Sunday.

“This year marks a major milestone for 'Brooklyn's backyard,'and Parks is honored to be a part of the celebration,” Mitchell Silver, the NYC Parks Department Commissioner, said in a statement. “For thirty years, the partnership with Prospect Park Alliance has made it possible for such a beloved outdoor space to thrive and become the destination it is today.”

Martin Seck
Elizabeth Keegin Colley

The Park was designed by noted landscape architects Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the same duo that also designed Central Park. The project broke ground in 1866, and an “Opening Day” event was held the following year with thousands of visitors in attendance. The 526-acre Park was by no means finished that year however—construction took place over a 30-year period between 1865-1895 for major work to be complete. Here’s looking back at some photos from its early years.

Prospect Park construction engraving c. 1866
Prospect Park Archives/Bob Levine Collection
Endale Arch c. 1890
Prospect Park Archives, Bob Levine Collection
Nethermead Arch c. 1890
Prospect Park Archives, Bob Levine Collection
Lawn Tennis being played in 1885
Prospect Park Archives

The Prospect Park Alliance got involved in the 1980s, and the Park has been run as a public-private partnership between the city and the Alliance since 1987. For a full list of upcoming events visit the Alliance’s website.

Prospect Park

Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY 11215 (718) 965-8951 Visit Website