Straus Park

The Daily Plant : Thursday, December 16, 2010

Groundbreaking For Lakeside At Prospect Park

Breaking ground at Lakeside on Wednesday.
Malcolm Pinckney

New York City Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Prospect Park Alliance Chairman Albert H. Garner and New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky broke ground on Lakeside at Prospect Park on Wednesday, December 15. Lakeside will replace the winter-only Wollman Rink with a LEED certified green building and two outdoor skating rinks, which will host ice skating and hockey in the winter and roller skating and water features in the summer. The $70 million, 26-acre project includes the ongoing restoration and enhancement of the original Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux landscape design for the Park.

“The old meets the new as the Prospect Park Lakeside’s historic landscape gets restored with improved access and state of the art, green amenities,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Opening up the rink to year-round activities and expanding this recreational space will allow even more New Yorkers to enjoy one of our city’s most celebrated parks. Thanks to generous support from our elected officials, the Leon Levy Foundation, the Brooklyn Community Foundation, the board of the Prospect Park Alliance and other individual, corporate and foundation supporters, the Lakeside Center will be a feature attraction in this flagship park.”

The New York firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects have designed a new, 26,000-square-foot building of indoor and outdoor space with two rinks (32,000-square-feet in total skating surface), that will accommodate an estimated 300% increase in year-round site usage. By demolishing the old Wollman Rink (built in 1960), and constructing a new facility on the site of the existing parking lot, five acres will be added to the Lake as well as three adjacent acres of park land. Prospect Park Alliance landscape architect, Christian Zimmerman, FASLA, and the staff of the Alliance’s Design and Construction office are responsible for Lakeside landscape design and restoration plans.

Expected completion of the Lakeside Center is winter 2012/2013. For project updates please visit


Beth Straus, who demonstrated a lifelong commitment to New York City Parks through her transformative work at the New York Botanical Garden, died on Monday, December 6 at her home in Somesville, Me., on Mount Desert Island. She was 94. For nearly a half century, Straus helped to revamp the Botanical Garden as it became a treasured museum and fostered one of its crown jewels, the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden.

Mrs. Straus, whose twin passions were horticulture and modern art, spent decades on the boards of both the Botanical Garden and the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

A native of San Francisco, she came to New York City with her husband, Donald Straus, a scion of the family that owned Macy’s department store, in the 1940s. She started at the Botanical Garden, in the Bronx, as a volunteer, mounting specimens in the herbarium.

Mrs. Straus married into a family that has a long history with New York City Parks. Straus Park, located on Manhattan’s upper west side, was named for David’s grandparents, Isidor and Ida Straus. The couple died on April 15, 1912 when the S.S. Titanic sank on its maiden voyage from England to America. Isidor had founded Macy’s in 1902.

An expert gardener and horticulturist, Mrs. Straus joined the board in 1966 and went on to recruit people who would be instrumental in the garden’s transformation. They included the philanthropist Enid A. Haupt, whose donations before her death in 2005 totaled in the tens of millions; the designer Lynden B. Miller, who created and oversees the garden’s half-acre perennial garden; and the current president, Gregory Long, appointed in 1989. Since then, the number of visitors to the garden each year has increased to approximately 800,000 from 300,000.

In the mid-1980s, as chairwoman of the horticulture committee, Mrs. Straus came upon design drawings by Beatrix Jones Farrand for the Botanical Garden’s original rose garden, which was built in 1916 but without some architectural elements of Ms. Farrand’s plan, including an iron latticework enclosure.

Mrs. Straus envisioned a reconstructed, more glorious garden and persuaded David Rockefeller to donate $1 million for the project. Named for his wife, Peggy, the rose garden opened in 1988 and was renovated in 2006 and 2007. It is now home to more than 600 varieties of roses and more than 3,600 individual plants.

Parts of this article were excerpted from an obituary written by Bruce Weber that appeared in the New York Times on Saturday, December 11.


“When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained.”

Edward R. Murrow
(1908 – 1965)

Directions to Straus Park

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