Historic Island Returns To Prospect Park
Prospect Park recently completed a historic makeover that reflects the way the park's designers intended it to look 145 years ago. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
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A long-lost island in Prospect Park is back.
The island is called Music Island and was part of the original park designed by creators Olmstead and Vaux in 1867. It was wiped out to make way for the Wollman Ice skating rink in 1960.
"Music Island was flattened and then the rink slab was poured on top of that fill," said Emily Lloyd, the president of the Prospect Park Alliance.
"Somehow, we had to figure out that underneath it, we could recover an island and water body and re-create this natural landscape," said Christian Zimmerman, the head landscape architect for the project.
Park officials demolished the skating rink in 2010 and resurrected old photos of Music Island to restore the historic landscape.
"That all had to excavated and then redesigned without having the original plans, really from looking at old photographs and reading minutes from meetings where it was discussed," Lloyd said. "So it was very painstaking. It was a real effort of love to re-create what was here."
The re-creation includes a new esplanade that looks out over the island. It's called Music Island because concerts used to be held there. The audience gathered on what's called Concert Grove.
The area was dedicated to native Brooklynite Shelby White and her family. The island is named for her father, who loved music. The esplanade is named for White and her late husband Leon Levy. The $10 million project was funded by the Leon Levy Foundation. White grew up a block away.
"When I came back years later and I realized how special this place was, I knew that I wanted to do something to help Brooklyn and bring back what was the golden age of my childhood," White said.
The restoration project took about 2.5 years of construction and covers nearly 10 acres of Prospect Park.
As crews excavated, they uncovered a water fountain from 1860. It's no longer operable but will serve as a decoration in the park.
Meanwhile, a new year-round skating facility is being built adjacent to the esplanade. It's called Lakeside Center and is expected to be completed in late fall of next year.