Mayor Bill de Blasio today unveiled the design plans for the nearly $9 million restoration of Grand Army Plaza, a New York City and National Historic Landmark, including the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch and the landscaped berms that frame the plaza.
Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that operates Prospect Park in partnership with NYC Parks, is undertaking the project, which builds on their work over 30 years to restore Prospect Park and its historic landscapes. Images of the design, and historic photos of the Arch, can be viewed here.
“Grand Army Plaza is an iconic Brooklyn destination, welcoming New Yorkers and visitors from across the world to the beautiful Prospect Park. The restoration of the Arch and surrounding landscape will ensure the Plaza is magnificent for generations to come,” said de Blasio.
The restoration plan focuses on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch, which has deteriorated over time: replacing the arch’s roof; cleaning and repointing the brick and stone structure; repairing interior elements, including historic iron staircases that lead up to the roof; and upgrading the exterior lighting with new high-efficiency fixtures.
The project also includes restoring elements of the surrounding plaza and landscaped berms that frame the plaza on its east, west and north sides. This includes removing invasive vines, shrubs and trees that are in poor condition and planting mostly native trees and shrubs that provide interest and color throughout the seasons. The Alliance will also replace the existing chain link fence with low, decorative steel fencing, and restore the broken bluestone and granite paving around Bailey Fountain and the John F. Kennedy Memorial so that it is accessible.
Park creators Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed Grand Army Plaza as the grand formal entrance of Prospect Park at the time of its construction in 1867. In 1889, the plaza became the site of the Soldiers and Sailors Arch, which was dedicated in 1892 to commemorate those who fought with the Union troops during the Civil War. On top of the arch is a quadriga of Columbia, who represents the United States, surrounded by two winged Victories who trumpet her arrival. Smaller sculptures mounted on pedestals depict soldiers and sailors.
In addition to the restoration of Grand Army Plaza, the Prospect Park Alliance also is restoring the adjacent northeast corner of Prospect Park. This includes the restoration of the Flatbush Avenue perimeter of the park, through funding from Borough President Eric Adams and New York City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo; the construction of two new entrances to the park on Flatbush Avenue, and is also restoring pathways, benches and lighting in the northeast corner of the park through $2 million in funding from de Blasio.
“The restoration of Grand Army Plaza and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch is a bright spot in what has been a dark and difficult year for our borough and city. This iconic location, which draws millions of local residents and visitors each year, has a rich history dating back to the park’s founding,” said Adams.
“As more Brooklynites and New Yorkers flock to our world-class public parks, it’s more critical than ever that we preserve and improve upon this infrastructure. I have been proud over the course of my time as borough president to allocate millions of dollars in capital funding toward making Prospect Park more accessible and equitable to all residents, and I thank the Parks Department and the Prospect Park Alliance for spearheading this exciting new project,” he added.
Cumbo said it is only right that our community leadership invests in the spaces which have proven beneficial to the wellbeing of residents and the betterment of the community.
“Prospect Park has not only served as a place for Brooklynites to exercise, congregate safely, and enjoy nature within its 250-acre forest, but also a hub for cultural activity,” said Cumbo.