Prospect Park’s Watercourse

Saturday, April 6th at 4:30pm


Join landscape historian Kate Papacosma as she leads a walk following Prospect Park’s mile-long watercourse as it winds through meadows and woods to the Lake. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the Park’s co-designers, designed this contiguous series of falls, pools, and streams in 1867 as beautiful to view but also to provide recreational opportunities for boating, skating, fishing, and more. The watercourse was a design and engineering feat that created a self-contained oasis replete with a massive Well and a now, newly restored, Well House. The stream and Lake had symbolic as well as practical importance as did the Well which supplied the Park’s many drinking fountains. Brooklyn did not have a steady supply of clean water until the Ridgewood Reservoir was completed in 1858, radically improving public health. Romantic design, engineering, and public health were combined, creating a fascinating story that endures to this day.

Kate Papacosma is a landscape historian. She writes about Brooklyn / New York City history and leads tours of Prospect Park and other destinations.

We will meet at the Park’s northern entrance under the giant, eagle-topped columns, across the Grand Army Plaza from the victory arch.

Photo: Fallkill Falls, the head of the stream