In 1859, a commission was formed by the New York State Legislature, charged with finding locations for parks in the rapidly expanding city of Brooklyn. James S. T. Stranahan, a wealthy Brooklyn businessman, was president of this Brooklyn Board of Park Commissioners. Washington Park, in Fort Greene, was the city’s first park, but the city needed more. They wanted the equivalent of Central Park, the enormous greensward which had just been completed across the river in Manhattan. The commission wanted something big, and after looking at six different locations, they thought they had just the place for it.
The glacier that cut through Long Island millennia before had left a terminal moraine that sliced through central Brooklyn, creating its highest points. One of them was Mount Prospect, the site of the city’s main reservoir and its water supply. Nearby was Battle Pass, the site of the Battle of Brooklyn, during the Revolutionary War. What a great place for a park for the people, a landscaped reserve that would protect and celebrate these important locations. The park would also protect the reservoir from being surrounded by too much development. The eastern portion of the park, surrounding Battle Pass, would be perfect for attracting wealthy people to a new upscale neighborhood that could be built for them. It was perfect. (more…)