Park Slope has long been one of Brooklyn's most desirable residential neighborhoods. Windsor Terrace, south of the Slope, and Prospect Park South are also much in demand, and the part of Eastern Parkway near Grand Army Plaza has also been attracting positive attention for several years now. But would any of these areas be as sought-after if they weren't near Prospect Park?
Probably not, says John Manbeck, former Brooklyn borough historian and retired English professor at Kingsborough Community College. "Many of the houses nearby don't have big backyards, and some of those brownstones certainly don't have any front yards. For the people who live there, the park is their backyard."
Ellen Salpeter, director of Heart of Brooklyn, a partnership of several Brooklyn cultural institutions that includes Prospect Park, says, "I live on Eastern Parkway, and I'm not sure I would have chosen to live there if it weren't for the park, the Botanic Garden and the zoo."
Indeed, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who designed Prospect Park in the 19th century and also designed Central Park, reportedly considered Prospect Park their masterpiece. Not only do recreational users and tourists visit the park, says Salpeter, but so do "scholars and people interested in park design."
Today, Prospect Park encompasses 526 acres, and is bordered by Eastern Parkway, Flatbush Avenue, Ocean Ave-nue, Parkside Avenue, Prospect Park Southwest and Prospect Park West. Among its major attractions are its vintage Coney Island carousel; the Prospect Park Zoo; the lake and boathouse, which houses the Prospect Park Audubon Center; its natural forest, known as the Woodlands; the 18th century Lefferts Historic House, and much more.