We live in New York City, so access to nature and open space is a bid deal. We spend all of our time with our heads down, avoiding other people, and largely ignoring our surroundings, because what’s in front of us is a jumble of concrete and bricks—i.e. what’s in front of us is largely not that beautiful. So when beauty in the form of trees and grass and undulating hills and water does present itself, we flock to it.
And so, people have been flocking to Prospect Park for that reason—for the sheer immensity and scope of its nature, and for the freedom and leisure that we get to pursue within it—as of 2017, for 150 years. Starting this weekend, Prospect Park is kicking off an entire season of events to celebrate this jewel that Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux saw to completion in 1867, and that Brooklyn residents have rightly been calling their backyard ever since; because, literally, they do not have backyards of their own.
From an Opening Day Parade and fair, to a 1960s-style exhibition ball game, walking tours, the kick-off of Smorgasburg, and the launch of a Brooklyn Brewery Prospect Park 150th anniversary beer (“Long Meadow Gold”) this weekend, to fundraising parties with music and cocktails, community park cleanings, lots of live music all summer long, historical and artistic exhibitions, and even a Moth story slam, Prospect Park is where it’s at for a lot of good times and outdoor leisure in a grandiosely gorgeous setting for the rest of its 150th anniversary year.
Of course, you don’t have to take part in these planned events to celebrate the park’s birth. The real beauty of Prospect Park—which has been operated through a private-public partnership between the city and the non-profit Prospect Park Alliance since 1987—is that it is there for all of us to make of a handsome, green and expansive canvas, what we can. Maybe it’s a weekend barbecue; maybe it’s an acoustic jam sessions with your friends; maybe it’s a personal celebration of your own, like Mayor Bill de Blasio used it for when he got married in the park. Maybe it’s your favorite place to contemplate life’s bigger questions while enjoying recreational drugs, and by that of course I mean some mean iced herbal tea.
Yes, the beauty of Prospect Park is that it generously welcomes all of that—and all of us—in every shape and form (you know, as long as you do your part to keep it beautiful); and even then, there’s still plenty of room, and undulating hills, and lakes, and trees, and even goats, for goodness sake, to spare for the rest of us.
Check out the full line up of birthday events, sent from the park, below:
Opening Weekend (starting today!)
Friday, March 31 – Sunday, April 2
Join Prospect Park Alliance to kick off the 150th anniversary celebration of Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s Backyard, with a full weekend of special events and festivities. The fun kicks off Friday, March 31, when Lola Star brings her popular skating disco to the ice at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside. All weekend long, enjoy the start of the spring season with an Opening Day Parade and Fair, an exhibition 1860s ballgame, running and walking tours, and the first Smorgasburg of the season, including the launch of a special Brooklyn Brewery Prospect Park 150th brew: Long Meadow Gold.
Party for the Park
Thursday, May 11
Prospect Park Boathouse
This spring fundraising party for Prospect Park Alliance will celebrate the Park’s 150th! Enjoy music, light bites from some of Brooklyn’s top restaurants and cafes, and specialty cocktails from some of the borough’s top mixologists. The party will feature Butter & Scotch, Tooker Alley, El Atoradero, Insa, Littleneck, Lumpia Shack, East Wind Snack Shop, Hugo & Sons, No. 7 Restaurant, Four & Twenty Blackbirds and Ample Hills. Nitehawk Cinema will host a lounge with exclusive cocktails and film screenings celebrating the Park’s 150th.
It’s My Park! Day: Prospect Park 150
Saturday, May 20
Join Prospect Park Alliance and REI to care for your Park! On It’s My Park! Day, Alliance volunteers will participate in a citywide effort to care for our green spaces with brooms, shovels, rakes, and trash grabbers. In honor of Prospect Park’s 150th anniversary, the Alliance is aiming to have 150volunteers in the Park on May 20. Stewardship work will include woodland restoration. Presented by REI.
New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks: Prospect Park 150
Friday, June 16
Long Meadow Ball Fields, Prospect Park
The New York Philharmonic partners with Prospect Park Alliance to honor the Park’s 150th Anniversary as part of the Philharmonic’s Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer. The Philharmonic will feature Brooklyn-based musicians performing an opening act, presented as part of the Philharmonic’s Share the Stage program and in celebration of the Park’s 150th and the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary.
The Means of a Ready Escape: Brooklyn’s Prospect Park
On view July 13, 2017 – September 30, 2018
Brooklyn Historical Society
In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Prospect Park, Brooklyn Historical Society and Prospect Park Alliance present an exhibition that celebrates the founding vision of the Park, traces its social and historical trajectories, and examines the important role that Prospect Park has played as “Brooklyn’s Backyard” for 150 years.
The Connective Project
July 7–17, 2017
In celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Brooklyn’s Backyard, Prospect Park Alliance is bringing together artists, Brooklyn notables and the public to create a site-specific art installation, which celebrates the special meaning the Park has in the lives of millions of community members from across the borough and beyond. Funded in part by Bloomberg Philanthropies and NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival: Prospect Park 150th Celebration
Prospect Park Bandshell
As part of the 150th celebration, BRIC and Prospect Park Alliance will host a special one-evening celebration of Prospect Park as part of the annual BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, featuring performances and special festivities in honor of the Park.
The Moth StorySLAM: Prospect Park 150
Thursday, September 7
Prospect Park Picnic House
Prospect Park Alliance and The Moth present a special Moth StorySLAM in celebration of the Park’s 150th Anniversary. This open-mic storytelling competition is open to anyone with a five-minute story to share on the night’s theme: Anniversaries. Come tell a story, or just enjoy the show!