Mar 2, 2021
Holy sheep! Rare 1929 film shows lambs grazing in Prospect Park
'So tame that they ate from children’s palms,' the sheep were tended to by a full-time shepherd and dogs
Central Park may have its Sheep Meadow, but in early 20th century Prospect Park, flocks of sheep grazed and tended to the length of Long Meadow. The lambs that roamed the grass were reportedly “so tame that they ate from children’s palms.” The park also employed a full-time shepherd and dogs to tend to the sheep, which would range in number over the years from approximately 30 to as many as 110.
Yesterday, Brownstoner shared a long-forgotten Fox Movietone News clip from 1929 of this slice of Brooklyn’s ovine history, called “Spring Lamb Season is Here.” In it, sheep bleat and graze, and “little girls enjoy pastoral scene where shepherd tends his flock.”
You wouldn’t find only sheep in the park, either. The Prospect Park Commissioners in 1866 proposed while the park was still being designed “to enclose with a sufficient iron paling and make use of as a pasture ground for deer, antelopes, gazelles, and such other grazing animals as can he satisfactorily herded together in summer upon it.”
Other furry friends were viewable in the park’s long-gone menagerie, complete with bears, lions, monkeys, and birds. The Prospect Park Zoo opened in 1935 replaced the menagerie.
More recently, the Prospect Park Alliance brought goats in 2016 and 2017 to tend to the overgrown Vale of Cashmere. Damage from storms like Hurricane Sandy hurt trees, leaving the natural ecosystem vulnerable to invasive weeds.
If you’re inspired by this bit of history to visit Prospect Park, and the zoo, soon—be sure to check out the bandshell for “Inspired By ‘What Is Left’,” a piece of public artwork from Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine. The text-based installation installation quotes the late poet Lucille Clifton—”Come celebrate with me that every day something has tried to kill me and failed”—and is on view through May 2021.
You might also like
Excerpt: ‘Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor’
Arts & Leisure
Arts & Leisure