City of New York Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver sends on this update on the restoration of Endale Arch in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. You can see in the remarkable photos what this arch restoration shows about the importance of park entrance and access at the time it was first constructed 160 years ago. This element was designed by landscape designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, to provide a gesture of separation from the urban noise and business of Grand Army Plaza to the field like Long Meadow which is one mile long.
The original intent was for the Endale Arch to blend seamlessly into the landscape. When it was opened in the 1860’s it provided a pedestrian entrance into the park separated from horse riders carriage drivers and people on bicycles. Over a century the arch had deteriorated.
With a $500,000 grant from the Tiger Baron Foundation and through participatory municipal budgeting the arch was restored to how it would have appeared in the 1860’s. One cross vault was left exposed to show the the brick and granite components beneath the wood. LED lighting was added to brighten the interior of the arch.
When Prospect Park opened in 1867 it was seen as a pastoral large park of 526 acres, without the tight confines of Central Park. Articles at the time describe Prospect Park as 30 minutes away from New York City’s Wall Street. Central park in 1867 took an hour to access from Wall Street. New York City’s remarkable subway system was not in operation until decades later in 1904.
In New York City there are “conservancies” and “alliances” that take care of parks. The Prospect Park Alliance is the non-profit organization that sustains “Brooklyn’s Backyard,” in partnership with the City of New York. The Alliance was formed in 1987. Volunteers care for the natural areas and landscapes and provide free or very low cost education and recreational programming. The rehabilitation of Endale Arch is in keeping with the Alliance’s mandate to restore the park for the community by the community. You can find out more about the Alliance and its structure here.
Images: ProspectParkAlliance, Paul Martinka