Geology of the New York City Region

62. Prospect Park

In many ways, Prospect Park is Brooklyn's best kept secret. The park is another creation of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. They considered it a better work than their first collaboration, Central Park. The park is another example of an artificial landscape design. The park design took advantage of the natural topography of the Harbor Hill moraine (the terminal moraine of the Stage 2 - Wisconsin glacier). However, most of the original lay of the land has been altered to match the plans of the park designers. The park was completed after the Civil War. Olmstead and Vaux's plan was to reduce the amount of traffic and building within the park (which was their primary criticism of their other park). In this manner, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Grand Army Plaza Library are located beyond the park boundary. With these options, there is much to see and do for a day in the area (Figure 156).

Map of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York
Figure 156. Map of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York.

To get there, take the IRT subway to Grand Army Plaza Station located near the park entrance at Parkside and Ocean Avenues. Walking south, you pass through The Vale and enter the Long Meadow. This long open space is usually busy with people enjoying the park. Although the landscape has been somewhat modified, its rolling topography gives the impression of being a glacial landscape. On the west side of Long Meadow is a small portion of the original hummocky topography of the Harbor Hill moraine. A stone bridge over The Ravine is constructed from an abundance of glacial erratics unearthed in the construction of the park (Figure 157). Many large glacial erratics can be found scattered through the wooded landscape. Most consist of gneiss from the Highlands region, but boulders of diabase from the Palisades Sill can also be found.

The Ravine bridge in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York
Figure 157. A bridge built of local glacial erratics crosses The Ravine in Prospect Park.

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Last modified: 3/11/2019