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Grand Army Plaza

The Daily Plant : Thursday, December 14, 2000


Rich cultural institutions cluster in the heart of Brooklyn: Prospect Park and the Lefferts Homestead within it, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, the Brooklyn Public Library Main Branch, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Children's Museum and the Prospect Park Zoo are all within walking distance of each other.

Now they're working together to develop joint programming. A strong network of professional associations between the leaders has given rise to a spate of inspired arts programs that draw upon the unique strengths of each institution and package them together for the consumer: parkgoers, library users, museum visitors, and zoo lovers.

13 years ago today, Prospect Park Administrator Tupper (Forsythia) Thomas received a prestigious award from the Fund for the City of New York for her work as a public servant (see Thirteen Years Ago Today in yesterday's Plant). Today, she's at the front lines of an innovation in which the major cultural institutions in the heart of Brooklyn link resources to expand the scope of their programming. Since the Prospect Park Alliance was formed, the effect of improvements to the park have rippled out among its neighbors. The Brooklyn Museum now describes itself as located next to Prospect Park, a fact it didn't always choose to advertise. Now that each institution views the other as an asset, the possibilities have multiplied by six.

This New Year's Eve, as part of Mayor Rudy (Eagle) Giuliani's First Night New York City 2001, the six partners will stage a day-long celebration that concludes with a "Blooming Lights" show at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens followed by a "Brooklyn Be There!" party at Grand Army Plaza with DJs, dancers, and singers. At midnight, Mt. Prospect (at the top of a hill between the garden and the library) and Prospect Park will coordinate fireworks.

For the last three summers, the team of six have offered a two-week summer program for neighborhood kids. The Brooklyn Cultural Activities Program, BCAP, is organized around a common theme, traceable in the work of each institution. Last year's curriculum centered on time. In Prospect Park, kids timed paddle boat races. They weighed and measured fish from the water. They examined Lefferts Homestead and learned what might have taken place there in olden times. At the Zoo they found out how, and how frequently, the animals are fed. In the Gardens they planted plants and watched them grow over the course of the two weeks. They studied plants from centuries ago, and conducted research on time at the library. A Children's Museum on clocks was perfectly timed for BCAP and the children went from there to the Ancient Egypt wing at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. BCAP so impressed participants and local leaders that the six institutions are planning a five-day winter program for kids' vacation in February offered with sliding scale tuition.

The sextet also coordinate outreach to promote the heart of Brooklyn as a popular tourist destination and a user friendly center of cultural activity. Tupper Thomas observes that institutions frequently view each other with suspicion and a measure of rivalry. It is a tribute to the partners involved, and a treat for residents of New York, that six influential leaders recognize the mutual benefit of collaboration and are working to exploit its riches.


Parkies who wish to donate a small portion of their salary to charity may do so through the city's Combined Municipal Campaign, a program designed to facilitate charitable giving for city employees. Participants can contribute as little as a dollar a month to an array of charities that focus on health care, literacy instruction, youth recreation, drug counseling, job training and other issue areas. 93% of each dollar goes directly to the nonprofit. Choice runs high as far as how much money can be spent and where that money is channeled. For the answers to your questions, please call Tarice Harris, Benefits Coordinator at (212) 830-7814.

(Thursday, December 17, 2000)


A new approach to research and development (R & D) has been devised to help implement innovation in the way the agency maintains and operate parkland. Deputy Commissioner for Operations Robert Russo and Deputy Commissioner for Management Robert L. Garafola announced.

Coordinating this many-faceted effort is Special Counsel Diane Englander who is acting as a liaison between R & D and Operations. "We hope to ensure that valuable recommendations to make Parks more efficient don't just end up in a file drawer-and that important but relatively short-term projects don't fall through the cracks," she said.


"All objects, all phases of culture are alive. They have voices. They speak of their history and interrelatedness. And they are all talking at once!"

Camille Paglia (b. 1947)

Directions to Grand Army Plaza

  • Grand Army Plaza Newstand
  • Arch in Grand Army Plaza
  • Fireworks in Grand Army Plaza

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