Fort Greene Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, May 14, 2007

Fort Greene Park Is May’s Park Of The Month

Photo by Daniel Avila

Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn is both a popular neighborhood park and a historically significant site. The 30-acre park is home to tennis courts and playgrounds, a visitors center, a monument to Revolutionary War heroes, and is host to events such as concerts, poetry readings, and civic gatherings. The park, which is bounded by Myrtle Avenue, Dekalb Avenue, Washington Park, and St. Edwards Street, has been named May’s Park of the Month.

“History comes alive at Fort Greene Park,” said Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “What was once a Revolutionary War fortress, known as Fort Putnam, is now a majestic park with majestic views. New Yorkers can learn about our shared history by exploring the new Visitor’s Center and soon, a restoration of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument and its surrounding landscape will be complete. Whether walking a dog, admiring the many species of trees, going on Urban Park Ranger tours, playing tennis and basketball, enjoying the playgrounds, or attending one of the activities organized by our partners in the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, there is always something to do at Fort Greene Park.”

The park is named for Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene who oversaw the construction of Fort Putnam at the summit of the park in 1776. During the Battle of Brooklyn, Fort Putnam defended General George Washington’s retreat across the East River to safety.

Honoring the park’s rich history, last year the Parks Department cut the ribbon on the new Fort Greene Visitor’s Center, which boasts a colonial historical theme. We installed interpretive signage and put on display a cannon, four Revolutionary War musket balls, and buttons from British and Hessian uniforms that were discovered in the park. The building was renovated as Parks staff made extensive repairs, constructed the display cases and counter, and added landscaping to the exterior. Boy Scout Troop 237 cleaned and painted the building, earning badges for this public service. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz funded program support materials, and Council Member Letitia James funded the Urban Park Rangers who staff the Center, providing a full program of historical and environmental education.

Currently undergoing reconstruction is the majestic Prison Ship Martyrs Monument. The monument was created in the early 20th century when the leading architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White won a competition for its design, calling for a huge doric column, crowned with a bronze urn. It honors those Revolutionary War prisoners who died aboard the wretched conditions of British prison ships in Wallabout Bay. The monument was dedicated by President Taft in 1908 and, nearly 100 years later, we broke ground on its $4.3 million restoration, funded by Mayor Bloomberg, the Borough President and the City Council. Parks is restoring the crypt, annex, doric column, urn, bronze eagles, light shafts, plaza and landscaping. Work is scheduled for completion by this fall, ensuring that it will be in pristine condition for its centennial in 2008.

Another new development at the park is the creation of the Fort Greene Park Tree Trail. Thirty-nine different species of trees were identified and mapped out on a route that takes hikers on a tour throughout the park. Led by Eagle Scout candidate Ryan O’Loughlin, a team from Boy Scout Troop 237 spent over 500 hours working with Urban Park Ranger Alberto Correa and Parks staff to create this first-ever tree trail constructed by volunteers.

The Fort Greene Park Conservancy partners with the Parks Department in programming the park’s activities. The Conservancy sponsors the very popular Halloween Festival in the Fall, a film series in the summer, clean-up days, concerts and other events. We work together to ensure that park provides a rewarding experience for all its patrons.

Park of the Month introduces some of our greatest parks and greenspaces to curious New Yorkers and visitors alike. For additional information, please visit our website at


“Ignorant men don’t know what good they hold in their hands
until they’ve flung it away.”

(496 BC – 406 BC)

Directions to Fort Greene Park

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