Fort Greene Park

DeKalb and Washington Park
Brooklyn, NY

Submitted by: Hans-Christoph Steiner

It is a grand park with a central monument.

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Why It Works

Fort Greene Park is about eight city blocks in size and roughly square. It has a wide variety of features and uses, ranging from basketball courts, a BBQ area, tennis courts, a large field, a playground, and a farmer's market. The landscape is equally varied, with a large field, paths through hilly forested areas, with the large hill in the middle with the monument on top of it.

What Makes Fort Greene Park a Great Place?

The park has a wall almost entirely around it, except for the entrances. But rather than being a detriment, the wall serves to make it feel like a massive oasis from the city. The park is bounded by a hospital on one side, projects on another, and grand old houses on the remaining two sides, which recently have skyrocketed in price. The only way into the park is to walk, there is no parking anywhere nearby. There are buses and subways close by. All-in-all, it is a very well used park, but it still manages to have some quiet corners.

The first impression of the park is the multitude of activities going on. While there are few benches, there are plenty of lovely, green spots for lounging or picnicking, and the monument is great for sitting on the marble steps and checking out the Manhattan views.

There are people lounging and playing sports on the lawn, kids in the playground, tennis in the courts, walkers following the wandering paths, large family BBQs, and heated basketball games. The people are generally quite varied by just about any measure, but there is a noticeable and unfortunate separation between the side of the park that borders the projects, and the side that borders a more affluent neighborhood.

The sociability of the park depends upon the activities that one engages in. Generally the loungers keep to themselves while the sports players on the courts and fields are more sociable. Before 9am, dogs are allowed off-leash, and there is a thriving morning scene of playing dogs and coffee-drinking, chatting dog owners.

History & Background

Fort Greene Park was established in 1847 and designed by Olmstead and Vaux in 1864. Later McKim, Mead, and White designed the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument to house the remains of the Revolutionary War rebels who died in British prison ships nearby in the Wallabout Bay.

Contact Info:

Fort Greene Park Conservancy: P.O. Box 21734, Brooklyn, NY, 11202 (718) 222-1461; ftgreenepark@aol.com

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