Although it isn’t as well-known as Central Park, as Brooklyn’s largest park, it’s got plenty to offer. While you’re out exploring Prospect Park, you might want to know some trivia so you can look out for historical details you may have otherwise forgotten. I recently read an article in TimeOut that shared some facts about the park that you may not have known. They might surprise you:
It use to be a popular spot for farm animals: After Prospect Park first opened in 1867, it was a popular hangout spot for local livestock. While they weren’t allowed on the land, it was a tough law to enforce, and dozens of stray farm animals were regularly found on the land.
It was built on a battle site: During the American Revolution, the land on what is now Prospect Park was part of the Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn. It marked a valiant stand by the soldiers of the 1st Maryland Regiment, who although vastly outnumbered by the British were able to cover for George Washington while the rest of the army retreated.
It used to have a full replica of Mount Vernon: To commemorate George Washington’s 200th birthday, Robert Moses erected a full replica of his home. Sadly, however, it was torn down after just two years.
It was part of an Indian trail: In the 17th century and earlier, Brooklyn was home to Lenape Indians, who used a well-worn trail that later became the best route of travel between the Dutch towns of Brooklyn and Flatbush. It even played a part in the Battle of Brooklyn! When Prospect Park was established, it became East Drive.
It’s the final resting place of some 2,000 people: Since at least the 1840s, Prospect Park served as a Quaker cemetery. Since Quakers rejected headstones as a form of vanity, many of these graves were unmarked. If you’re curious, you can always bring a ouija board to the park at night!
It was made by people paid $1.70 a day: The construction workers who helped build the park, mostly poor Irish immigrants, were paid on a daily salary that today couldn’t even buy a Starbucks coffee. It’s hard to adjust for inflation (inflation didn’t start being properly recorded until 1913), this wasn’t a big sum by any means.
It used to host “ice baseball”: In the 19th century, Prospect Park’s frozen lake hosted a unique winter game known as “ice baseball”. It was much like regular baseball, except it was done with ice skates and a slightly different ball. It attracted thousands of spectators and players from as far away at Baltimore.
It has an historic statue of Lincoln: After Lincoln’s assassination, Henry Kirke Brown created a series of large bronze statues of the late President. The one in Prospect Park was the first one to be dedicated, so it holds the honor of being the Union’s first Abraham Lincoln statue.