Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux debuted Prospect Park to the Brooklyn masses in 1867. And this year, we get to celebrate. What has become Brooklyn’s most iconic park is in its 150th anniversary, and the history along the way is fascinating. Though Olmsted and Vaux had already designed Central Park, they considered this their masterpiece, and much of the pair’s innovative landscape design is still on display across all 585 acres. But it was the result of a lengthy, complicated construction process (Olmsted and Vaux weren’t even the original designers!) as well as investment and dedication from the city and local preservationists throughout the years. After challenges like demolition, neglect, and crime, the Parks Department has spent the past few decades not only maintaining the park but restoring as much of Olmsted and Vaux’s vision as possible.
It’s safe to say that these days, Prospect Park is just as impressive as when it first opened to the public. And of course, throughout its history the park has had no shortage of stories, secrets and little-known facts. 6sqft divulges the 10 things you might not have known.
All the juicy secrets ahead
Rendering courtesy of SCAPE Landscape Architecture
The Gowanus Canal Conservancy (GCC) has announced the launch of Gowanus Lowlands, a new comprehensive vision for the transformation of Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood and a ‘blueprint for NYC’s next great park.’ As 6sqft has previously reported, between developers eyeing the pricey parcel of southwest Brooklyn land as Paris on the Gowanus and the city’s ambitions to transform the long-embattled area into “Little Venice,” all eyes have been on the neighborhood and the once-toxic, steadily improving Superfund canal that anchors it. With an important rezoning on the horizon–the process kicked off last October with meetings to gauge community opinion–passions are running high. The conservancy has identified SCAPE landscape architecture studio to guide the Lowlands vision toward reality.
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Central Park’s Belvedere Castle will undergo major renovations beginning this summer and early fall, to fix the 146-year-old structure’s cracked pavement, leaking roof and plumbing issues. While the plan to give the castle a face-lift was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission last month, the plan to make its path handicap-accessible has not yet been approved. According to the New York Times, preservationists are concerned about the Central Park Conservancy’s proposal to build a ramp-like elevated walkway to the castle’s entrance, saying it would alter the experience of Central Park.
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Adding to its unique character, Extell’s One Manhattan Square will soon be home to NYC’s largest outdoor private garden, detailed in a new video released today by the developer. The proposal, designed by urban planning and landscape architecture firm West 8, includes more than an acre of garden space for residents to both work and socialize, boasting indoor and outdoor grilling spaces, ping-pong tables, a putting green, children’s playground, adult tree house, tea pavilion, and an observatory made for stargazing.
Watch the video here
6sqft reported in March on the latest developments in the on-again-off-again status of the $200 million Barry Diller-funded offshore park/performing arts center proposed for Pier 55 on the Hudson River; though construction began last November, opponents of the project, led by the City Club of New York, gained a victory in the form of a ruling by Judge Lorna G. Schofield that agreed with group’s claim that the Army Corps of Engineers had not conducted a sufficient environmental review on how the 2.4-acre park would affect fish and wildlife. The judge ordered that work stop at the site and called for a review of alternatives for building along Hudson River Park, a maritime sanctuary. Now, the New York Times reports that the Corps of Engineers, with the project’s sponsor, the Hudson River Park Trust, has filed an appeal of the decision.
And what about that Diller-Durst feud
For the past couple years, there have been no major updates on the QueensWay, the High Line-style elevated park and cultural greenway proposed for a 3.5-mile stretch of abandoned railway in central Queens. But today, the Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay said in a press release that they’ve finished the schematic design for the first half-mile, which could open as soon as 2020. Along with the announcement and details comes a new set of renderings from DLANDstudio Architecture + Landscape Architecture.
All the details and renderings ahead
With building construction well under way at the Domino Sugar Factory site, Two Trees Management has now released details about the 11-acre park that will anchor the three-million-square-foot Williamsburg mega-development. To be known as Domino Park and designed by James Corner Field Operations, the quarter-mile open space will boast a new waterfront esplanade, six acres of parkland, a plethora of preserved artifacts, and easier waterfront access. In addition to sharing several new renderings, Two Trees also announced that the park will open in the summer of 2018.
All the details and renderings ahead
While the outside of the Belvedere Castle looks strong, the inside of the 146-year-old fortress is actually crumbling. The cracked pavement, leaking roof, and plumbing issues encouraged the Central Park Conservancy to start a 10-year $300 million campaign last summer to renovate its structures, as well as surrounding playgrounds. As DNAInfo reported, beginning at the end of this summer and early fall, the castle, the Bernard Family Playground, and the Billy Johnson Playground will be closed for reconstruction.
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If you thought the roller coaster that is Pier 55 was over since construction began in November, you may not want to step off the ride just yet. Just yesterday, a federal judge ruled in favor of the City Club of New York, who took legal action against the $200 million Barry Diller-funded offshore park way back in the summer of 2015. As reported by the Times, Judge Lorna G. Schofield agreed with the group’s claim that the Army Corps of Engineers had not conducted a sufficient environmental review on how the 2.4-acre park would affect fish and wildlife. She ordered that work stop at the site and called for a review of alternatives for building along Hudson River Park, a maritime sanctuary.
Get the whole legal saga
Earlier this month, 6sqft revealed renderings of 601 Lexington Avenue‘s (the Midtown East skyscraper formerly known as the Citicorp Center) new “Market Building,” comprised of an interior atrium to hold dining/retail space and a new outdoor plaza and terraces. Though the LPC landmarked the building this past December, the Architect’s Newspaper has learned of a loophole in the designation regarding the privately owned public space, which could mean that amid the renovation, the sunken plaza and cascading fountain designed by Hideo Sasaki‘s firm–one of the iconic landscape architect’s few remaining works–may be demolished.
The full story ahead
In 2007, officials launched MillionTreesNYC, an initiative with the aim of greening New York City through the planting and care of one million trees. While the city surpassed its goal in 2015, planting 1,017,634 trees by the year’s end, efforts to increase leafy canopy coverage across the five boroughs has not wavered since. With that said, if you’re a New Yorker who feels that your street could use a bit more greenery (ahem, Sean Lennon), getting a tree planted on your block is much easier than you may think. By simply filling out a request with the New York Parks Department, you can get a tree planted, for free, so long as the plot you have in mind is suitable for planting.
find out more details here
A gift to perhaps the greatest woman in New York City, it was revealed on Wednesday that the Statue of Liberty will be receiving a $4.58 million facelift. The Post had the details on the plans which were approved by The National Park Service (NPS) earlier this week. The overhaul is expected to include the planting of 46 salt-tolerant trees, repairs to the statue’s granite pavers, and the installation of about 1,650-feet of stainless steel fencing and new gates around Lady Liberty’s base.
more details here
Although High Line Park visionary Robert Hammond recently expressed remorse for failing to develop a park that was “for the neighborhood”—not the ultra-wealthy that have infiltrated the blocks directly surrounding the elevated marvel—other cities continue to see nothing but financial opportunity in thrusting parkland upward. 6sqft recently reported on Newark, NJ, which will soon break ground on their own version of the High Line in hopes of revitalizing their long-burdened downtown, and now the Staten Island Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC) has announced that Port Richmond is angling for their own High Line magic atop .53 miles of abandoned North Shore rail line.
more details and photos here
Though plans were approved in November for the $70 million FXFOWLE-designed Statue of Liberty Museum, Archasm recently launched a speculative design competition for the site. Titled “LIBERTY MUSEUM NEW YORK: Freedom to the people,” the timely contest sought proposals that focused on civil and social justice, and ArchDaily now brings us the winning design from EUS+ Architects‘ Jungwoo Ji, Folio‘s Bosuk Hur, and Iowa State University student Suk Lee. The Korean designers were inspired by candlelight marches against social injustice in their home country and created an architectural landscape of water droplet-shaped modules that respond to global issues in real time. When a tweet about “dire events” is sent to the museum, the modules receive an electronic signal and moves to point toward the geographic location mentioned.
More looks and details on the design ahead
Despite the fact that the 535 concrete piles that will support the planned undulating base of the Pier 55 offshore park have already been erected, the Hudson River Park Trust is now looking towards a flatter design. The Architect’s Newspaper obtained a copy of a permit modification request that the group submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers that reduces the park’s overall size slightly from 2.7 to 2.4 acres and replaces many of the hollow pentagonal pots that would have sat on top of the columns with “a flat structural base sandwiches between the piles and the landscaping.”
Find out the reason for the major change