I booked this tour as a birthday surprise for my partner, a historian. It was a joy to learn from Kate about Prospect Park’s historical origins, topography, and status as a cultural institution. After taking her tour, I feel like I know so much more not only about the Park, but Brooklyn in the 19th and 20th centuries. Kate could answer every one of our questions, whether discussing the landscape or reasons behind its design. The tour was also engaging and fun, as Kate asked our impressions of the park to reveal its varied purposes: As a leisure ground, open-air concert space (starting with the Concert Grove and Music Terrace in the original design), or secluded spot for tranquility. I can’t recommend this tour highly enough!
Cally Trautwein, Brooklyn, NY
My husband and I are lifelong Brooklyn residents who lived near the south end of Prospect Park for years. It wasn’t until we took a tour of the Park with Kate Papacosma that we realized how little we knew about this wonderful place since its inception in the 1860s.
Olmsted and Vaux, the landscape architects of Prospect Park, envisioned a place of respite for a burgeoning Brooklyn community seeking escape from urban noise and pollution. Its wooded areas, meadows, and watercourse were planned as a healthy environment for every social class in Brooklyn and beyond.
Who better to guide us through Prospect Park than Kate? Her Master’s thesis focused on the history and design of the Park and her passion and commitment to this vital green space were palpable throughout our two-hour tour. It was educational, but, most important, eye-opening and interesting for two Brooklyn natives. The tour proceeds at a casual pace, discovering vistas and beauty we never knew existed in “our Park.”
Kudos to Kate! It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Marilyn and Barry Parker, Brooklyn, NY
My friends and I had such an enjoyable (and informative!) time with Kate. She was bursting with information and is a wonderful storyteller. The two hours flew by. We agreed that we had just seen the park with new eyes: A place we had all been before was gradually revealed, and we got to know, sometimes literally, what is just beneath the surface of this beautiful place. Kate made the time magical–we found ourselves full of awe, wonder, and delight.
Luned Palmer, Brooklyn, NY
Through the years, I’ve had the opportunity to take many types of tours of New York, but Kate’s is among the most special. Her in-depth knowledge of the history of Prospect Park and of those who contributed to its creation is amazing. During a two-hour period, one is immersed in the sights and sounds and scents of the Park as its original landscape architects intended, thanks to Kate. A must-do experience for all New Yorkers and those who come to visit.
Lawrence B., Washington, D.C.
I’m not usually all that fond of tours and often prefer to just go it alone with a book in hand. But I’d heard so much about Kate’s tours and decided it would be a fun way to plan an outing. I wanted to bring together some NYC friends I hadn’t seen in a while and at the same time learn something new. I wasn’t disappointed. This was one of the best New York City tours I’ve been on, far better than any of the Big Onion New York tours I’ve gone on. I’m a college professor and usually plan at least one outing a semester with a class. Next semester, I plan on asking Kate to lead my New York Literature & Culture class through Prospect Park. They’ll love it and will learn so much – about Olmsted and Vaux, about the interplay of landscape and architecture, and about the history of Brooklyn in the nineteenth century. Also, they’ll love Kate. She has such a great energy. She’s quick-witted and funny and never condescends. I highly recommend this tour. We all had a wonderful time.
Ann Peters, Queens, NY
I thoroughly enjoyed Kate’s tour of Prospect Park and wholeheartedly recommend it to others! We covered a ton of ground, both physically and historically, starting at Grand Army Plaza and ending by the Lake. Kate really brought the evolution of the park and the characters who shaped it to life, which was fascinating. She offers a very story-based tour, with lots of good anecdotes thrown in. We saw all the main areas of the park, but also walked through some areas that are really under-appreciated gems, too. Kate is also engaging and fun, and I’m so glad that I got to learn more about one of my favorite places in the city!
Kate Rube, Brooklyn, NY
Except for a torrential downpour that curtailed our visit to Prospect Park, Kate’s tour was all I hoped for. I had read a biography of Frederick Law Olmsted, so knew the basic facts of the Park’s design and creation by Olmsted and and his collaborator, Calvert Vaux. Kate filled in the philosophy of American public parks in the 19th century, contrasting the idea of a place of enjoyment and recreation for all classes seeking escape from urban ills with the European tradition of private parks. She described in some detail the evolution of Prospect Park with changes in vegetation and popular tastes in recreation, from strolling and carriage riding to baseball and tennis. She brought along an interesting set of illustrations showing the appearance of the park in its early years and the original rustic structures designed by Vaux and now for the most part replaced by late 19th and 20th century buildings. Pay close attention, however, to Vaux’s stone bridges and arches, with their wonderful wood and pressed concrete ceilings, bridges that help neatly separate cyclists and runners from walkers. We both marveled at how earth was moved and varied terrain shaped without mechanized equipment and how a spectacular deep well was dug to feed the elaborate watercourse.
I am eager to read the book Kate is writing!
Steve Merrill, Washington, DC
Hoping to learn a little more about Prospect Park, my husband and I signed up for Kate’s tour and brought five friends along. All seven of us not only thoroughly enjoyed learning about the park from Kate (who is a truly amazing resource), but were also able to get a much deeper understanding about why the Park we enjoy is such a treasure. After our afternoon with Kate, we all appreciate and experience the Park in a much more meaningful way. I can’t recommend Kate’s tour highly enough!
Meghan Fitzgerald, Brooklyn, NY
I’ve lived close to the park for ten years, and always loved it. I arranged a tour with Kate when my mother-in-law came to visit, thinking it would be a nice, touristy thing for her to do. Well, I’m not sure who enjoyed the tour more, my mother-in-law or me. I learned so much about this park that I’ve visited innumerable times, and now see it in new ways. Knowing the history of Brooklyn as its own city, and learning about why the park was designed to look the way it does, among other things, has made subsequent park visits so much richer and more enjoyable.
Candice Lehrner, Brooklyn, NY
There are probably a couple of ways that you might choose to visit Prospect Park: You can venture into the park on your own, and very quickly fall under the spell of it beauty while observing the park and the citizens of Brooklyn enjoying their spectacular urban oasis, and leave with a wonderful experience.
Or… you could chose to take a walk through the park with Kate Papacosma.
The latter will open your eyes to a whole different aspect of the park. There are things you will not see—because the designers, in their wisdom, did not want you to see. There are things you will not see—because they are no longer there. Kate knows about them all, and will share the story of the park—its early concepts, the fate that aligned the symbiotic talents of its designers, and its design relative to its slightly older sibling, Central Park—in an open, easygoing manner.
Prospect Park is a dynamic presence in the heart of Brooklyn, remaining true the design ideals of its designers, while ever-evolving to serve the needs of its surrounding community. Kate has a wonderful grasp on this evolution and a passion to share it with others. I heartily recommend spending a few hours with her in the park. You will leave with an appreciation of Prospect Park well beyond what you would ever have imagined.
Dave Greene, Hockessin, DE
Our tour of Prospect Park with Kate was fabulous, and I highly recommend it. Kate is very knowledgeable about her subject, and she has a gift for storytelling, which makes for a very enjoyable and engaging experience!
Minda and Gary Login, Boston, MA
Kate Papacosma gives a great tour of Prospect Park–uncovering the layers of cultural history, architectural intervention, and bringing to light a place I thought I knew so
well–only to rediscover through her knowledge.
The tour was equally engaging for both landscape architectural professionals and for first-time visitors to the park. It was amazing to understand the original designers’ true intentions for the place and the resultant history that has determined its current built form.
David Seiter, Brooklyn, NY
Principal, Future Green Studio Landscape Design and Urban Ecology
We arranged a tour of Prospect Park with Kate in June 2013. Kate is a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide. She has a background in landscape architecture and a clear affection for the park and the surrounding neighbourhood. We left with a much greater appreciation for how Prospect Park fits into the the history of Brooklyn and greater New York. Prospect Park is a gem, and Kate does a very good job of placing it in its political, design, and historical context. We learned how Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the Park’s designers, made the decisions they did, and the influence those decisions have had on the modern park. She also clearly explained how over the years changes have been made to the Park, and why. Prospect Park is well worth a visit, and I would highly recommend Kate’s tour.
Michael Colborne, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia
Great tour. Kate knows the park on many levels: historical, political, horticultural, and landscape design. We had a wonderful walk down the meadow and through the ravine to the lake. We left feeling not only that we had enjoyed our walk, but that we could appreciate the park in many contexts. Anyone who enjoys great parks will love this tour.
Keith Hardie, Jr., New Orleans, LA