Prospect Park Preserve
Habitat Type: Forest
Although Prospect Park is well known for its design and landscaping, the natural environments found throughout the park are equally impressive. When Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) and Calvert Vaux (1824-1895) designed Prospect Park, they incorporated two areas of existing forest and an intricate network of wetlands into their plan. These wetlands emerged from a combination of park design and ice age glacial terrain. The Prospect Park Forever Wild Preserve is composed of the Ravine, one of the two original forests and a part of the “Watercourse” of wetlands.
The Ravine is on the moraine and is a series of small hills and kettles (ponds formed by submerged chunks of glacier during the last ice age) with a small stream entrenched in a steep valley. Olmsted and Vaux planted evergreen trees in an attempt to mimic an Adirondack landscape, but over time most of the evergreens died. Native oaks, such as the pin oak (Quercus palustris), as well as non-native Norway maples (Acer platanoides) and sycamore maples (A. pseudoplatanus), have filled in the gaps. The fertile, moist, and well-drained soils of this area make for what is called a “rich forest.” Around the Ravine are some of the oldest trees in the park, including oaks (Quercus spp.), tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) and sweet gums (Liquidambar styraciflua).
By Subway: The 2/3 Subway stop at Grand Army Plaza is next to a main entrance to Prospect Park. Enter the park and follow the East Drive down a long Hill. The preserve area begins at the base of the hill to the right and follows paths along the forested and wet areas of the park.
Take the F to either the 7th Avenue, 15th St./Prospect Park, or Fort Hamilton stations. These stops leave you at the southwest side of the park. Enter the park and walk along the West Drive until you see the lake. The Forever Wild Preserve begins in the forest north of the lake.
The B and Q stop at Prospect Park and Parkside Ave on the east side of the park. From these stops, walk into the park and follow the East Drive to the entrance to the natural area on the left.
By car: Prospect Park can be reached via the major bridges. From the Manhattan Bridge, take Flatbush Avenue straight into Grand Army Plaza. Stay right around the circle, and go down Prospect Park West. Park along the street or the Litchfield Villa parking lot on 5th street. From the Verrazano Bridge, take the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway towards Manhattan. Exit at the Prospect Expressway. Take the Prospect Expressway to the 11th Avenue exit; go straight out the exit to 11th Avenue and turn left. Drive 4 blocks until you see the park.