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Thread: Central Park vs. Prospect Park: Differences and Similarities?

  1. #1

    Default Central Park vs. Prospect Park: Differences and Similarities?

    Although Central Park is generally considered to be NYC's most well-known park, Brooklyn's Prospect Park, it could be argued, is its younger sister. At the height of the 19th Century, when Brooklyn was a separate city trying to make a name for itself, it managed to build its own Vaux & Olmsted-designed space, albeit only 526 acres, versus Central Park's 843 acres.

    I get the idea that Central Park has seen more man-made configuration than Prospect has. For example, a lot of Central Park's top-soil had to be shipped in from NJ because its native soil wasn't sufficient enough to grow the trees that were desired, while Olmsted and Vaux managed to take advantage of landscape features in the area that were created from glacial movement.

    What do you think? I've been to Central Park several times (but not enough to be an expert on knowing the area) while I've never been to Prospect Park before, which is something I would like to do in the future.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Park

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prospec...klyn,_New_York

  2. #2

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    Prospect Park is a lot more natural than CP. Its got rolling hills and valleys and a meandering river that stretches for quite a bit. That said, its a lot messier than CP. The paths aren't organized and you could get lost in the "Vale of Cashmere" i think its called. But its a lot of fun to explore. The one thing that Propect has that kicks CPs ass is that since its not as well known, it isn't bombarded by thousands of tourists and visitors, so you can still find a quiet place to hang out, even on the lawn area. try and find a spot at Sheep's Meadow on a nice day. Not as easy

  3. #3
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    Hey what about Branch Brook Park in Newark. The Cherry Blossoms there out number the ones in DC and are far more beautiful and have their own festival. It got the beautiful Scared Heart Catherdral which is one of the largets in the country, actually possibly larger than St. Pats. Branch Brook Park also made by Vaux & Olmsted.

  4. #4

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    Do you have any pictures? It's interesting to learn about parks that were designed by Vaux and Olmsted.

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    Although I love Prospect Park, the one thing I am struck by is how much better and less run down it could be if it had the kind of funding that Central Park has. Does Prospect Park have anything akin to the Central Park Conservancy? If not, one needs to be started. The brownstones that adjoin it are now worth millions of dollars each. There is enough money there to finance some improvements without looking to the City, as was done in Central Park.

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    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    it isn't bombarded by thousands of tourists and visitors, so you can still find a quiet place to hang out, even on the lawn area. try and find a spot at Sheep's Meadow on a nice day. Not as easy

    It's close to impossible to find a spot of solitude in Central Park, at least the lower portion. I try to go during the weekdays, but it is still a challenge. Even when you find a spot, some idiot with the "herding" gene comes and insists on plunking down right next to you, despite acres of open area all around from which to choose.

    I wish the "elevator phenomenon", the natural law that people will spread out a little instead of clumping together, would hold true in parks.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by MidtownGuy
    It's close to impossible to find a spot of solitude in Central Park, at least the lower portion.
    Try The Ramble.

    For best results: a weekday morning.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by BPC
    Although I love Prospect Park, the one thing I am struck by is how much better and less run down it could be if it had the kind of funding that Central Park has. Does Prospect Park have anything akin to the Central Park Conservancy? If not, one needs to be started. The brownstones that adjoin it are now worth millions of dollars each. There is enough money there to finance some improvements without looking to the City, as was done in Central Park.
    Both Central and Prospect Parks get roughly equal city funding/acre; the difference is the Central Park Conservancy, which provides the majority funding, and basically runs Central Park. To their credit, they've managed to do it without turning it into Bryant Park, which is increasingly becoming a corporate ad venue.

    There is a Prospect Park Alliance, but it had more humble beginnings. Although both parks deteriorated greatly during the later 20th century, Central Park never lost its rich residential and cultural perimeter. While most of Central Park acreage (I think 75%) has been rebuilt, there are still significant spots in Prospect Park that are run-down. However, to my recollection of both parks at their worst, I think Prospect Park has changed more dramatically. And there have been several noteworthy renovations.

    Audubon Center


    Olmsted and Vaux considered Prospect Park to be a refinement of their Central Park design. One of the reasons the city of Brooklyn wanted the park built was to protect the reservoir at Prospect Hill (across Flatbush Ave). The original design was bordered by Washington Ave, with Flatbush Ave running through the center of the park. Design work was halted during the Civil War, and when Olmsted and Vaux presented a plan in 1866, the suggested the city buy land to the west and make Flatbush Ave the eastern border. They also suggested the city-owned land to the east of Flatbush be used for civic projects; that's why the Brooklyn Museum, Central Library, and Botanic Garden are where they are.

    The park's namesake is outside the park - the separate Mt Prospect Park.

    Although the natural topography was exploited, like Central Park, Prospect Park is constructed landscape.

    To get a first impression of Olmsted and Vaux's philosophy of design for the park, enter at Grand Army Plaza, but not through the roadway. Take one of the side paths through Endale or Meadowport Arch. When you emerge at the Long Meadow, you'll see it.

    Almost forgot
    http://www.prospectpark.org/general/pdfs/booster.pdf

  9. #9

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    Thanks Zip. I particularly appreciate the article at the end. For those who have not experienced Prospect Park on a Saturday or Sunday morning, it really is a marvel. Every breed of dog (and mixtrues thereof) can be found roaming free and mingling with one another in huge packs. Jane Jacobs wrote about how dog owners help provide the sort of "eyes on the street" that make a place safe, but there is still much resistence (e.g., Wagner Park, Governor's Island and possibly the WTC memorial park all have or plan to ban even leashed dogs). Of course, dog owners can also be inconsiderate and obnoxious, just like everyone else. As with everything else in City life, balance and moderation are the key. Prospect Park seems to have stuck a pretty good balance.

    One more question for you, Zip (or anyone else), if you know the answer. In the photo, why is that pond all algaed-over? My wife likes to go there sometimes to visit with the swan family that lives in that pond, but it's not very picturesque.
    Last edited by BPC; April 16th, 2006 at 03:13 PM.

  10. #10

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    In my opinion, Prospect Park is by far the more natural-seeming and dramatically-landscaped of the two. The Long Meadow is simply spectacular; it reminds me, for some reason, of the Austrian Alps. That said, Central Park, defined by its elegant perimeter, feels more refined and luxurious.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc
    Try The Ramble.

    For best results: a weekday morning.

    Actually the ramble is my absolute favorite part of the park. Deep in it, there is this rock that outcrops a bit, big enough to fit a whole bunch of people, I love going there to relax, read or whatever. You cant hear anything there, no traffic, horns, no city sound at all. If you woke up there, you wouldn't think you were in NYC. But even that gets crowded on nice days. Lots of people just walking around

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    Uh...you guys know what happens in the Ramble, right?

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by czsz
    Uh...you guys know what happens in the Ramble, right?
    No...tell us!

  14. #14

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    something happens in the rambles??

  15. #15

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    It's a major venue for outdoor/exhibitionist gay sex acts. People rove in there to find partners.

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