Grand Army Plaza

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Coordinates: 40°40′27″N 73°58′13″W / 40.6743°N 73.9702°W / 40.6743; -73.9702
Grand Army Plaza
Prospect Park Plaza until 1926,[1]
"The Circle"[2]
landmark
The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza.jpg
The Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch at the south end of the traffic oval (foreground).
Country United States
State New York
Borough Brooklyn, New York City
Part of Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Location John F. Kennedy memorial
 - elevation 131 ft (39.9 m) [3]
 - coordinates 40°40′27″N 73°58′13″W / 40.6743°N 73.9702°W / 40.6743; -73.9702
Area 14.26 acres (6 ha) [4]
Wikimedia Commons: Grand Army Plaza

Grand Army Plaza comprises the northern corner and the main entrance[5] of Prospect Park in the borough of Brooklyn, New York City, and consists of concentric oval rings arranged as streets, with the outer ring being the namesake Plaza Street. The inner ring was originally intended to be a circle,[citation needed] but it actually was arranged as a main street – Flatbush Avenue – with eight radial roads connecting: Vanderbilt Avenue; Butler Place; Saint John’s Place (twice); Lincoln Place; Eastern Parkway; Prospect Park West; Union Street; and Berkeley Place. As completed, the only streets that penetrate to the inner ring are Flatbush Avenue, Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Park West, Eastern Parkway, and Union Street.

The plaza includes the Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch, Bailey Fountain, the John F. Kennedy Monument, statues of Civil War generals Gouverneur K. Warren and Henry Warner Slocum, busts of notable Brooklyn citizens Alexander J.C. Skene and Henry W. Maxwell, and two 12-sided gazebos with "granite Tuscan columns, Guastavino vaulting, and bronze finials".[6]:668

History[edit]

Arch and columns in 1894 without sculptures; the low dome beyond the archway at ground level is the 1873 fountain
Saturday market in the plaza (Summer 2003)
For the history of the four plaza fountains, see Grand Army Plaza fountains.

The 1861 plan for Prospect Park included an elliptical plaza at the intersection of Flatbush and Ninth avenues.[7] In 1867, the plaza was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux as a grand entrance to the Park to separate the noisy city from the calm nature of the Park. Olmsted and Vaux's design included only the Fountain of the Golden Spray and the surrounding earth embankments covered in heavy plantings. The berms still shield the local apartment buildings and the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library from the noisy traffic circle that has developed. By 1869 the Abraham Lincoln statue by Henry Kirke Brown[8] was north of the plaza fountain's stairs, and the statue was moved to the lower terrace of the park's Concert Grove in 1895.[7]

The original 1867 fountain was successively replaced by an 1873 lighted fountain, an 1897-1915 fountain for exhibitions, and the 1932 Bailey Fountain renovated in 2006. In 1895, three bronze sculpture groups were added to the 1892 Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch. When the nearby 1896 Brooklyn Public Library was built, it was hoped that a new station on the BMT Brighton Line could be built almost directly under the building,[specify] but the $1 to 3 million cost was too much.[9][10]

In 1926, the plaza, previously known as Prospect Park Plaza, was renamed Grand Army Plaza to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the foundation of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army and other military services who served in the American Civil War.[1]

Henry W. Maxwell Memorial (1903)[11]
Richard Meier's 1 Grand Army Plaza apartment building was completed in 2009; the AIA Guide calls it "a massive beached whale".[12]

Current use[edit]

In 1975, Grand Army Plaza became a National Historic Landmark.[13]

The area around the Arch forms the largest and busiest traffic circle in Brooklyn, being the convergence of Flatbush Avenue, Vanderbilt Avenue, Eastern Parkway, Prospect Park West, and Union Street. In decades past, the circle hosted Brooklyn's "Death-O-Meter", a sign admonishing drivers to "Slow Up" and displaying a continually updated tally of traffic accident deaths in the borough.

For the past several years a popular green market/farmers market is held on the plaza in front of Prospect Park every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m..

The Grand Army Plaza station (2 3 4 trains), built in 1920 on the IRT Eastern Parkway Line, is on the north end of the Plaza and furnishes transportation to the site and the nearby park. The Seventh Avenue station (B Q trains) on the BMT Brighton Line is several blocks northwest. The B67 and B69 buses stop at Union Street and 7th Avenue, just two blocks north.

Developments and future[edit]

In 2008 a competition was held for designs to reorganize Grand Army Plaza to make it a more integral part of Prospect Park and more accessible to pedestrians.[14] At the same time, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) made improvements in accessibility, putting sidewalks and planters in many of the striped areas. These improvements made it somewhat easier and safer for pedestrians and cyclists to cross from the park to the library and to the plaza. The changes made by the NYCDOT were modest in comparison to those in the designs in the competition, most of which called for the rerouting of some of the vast traffic flow.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b New York Times, Plaza in Brooklyn Dedicated to G.A.R., May 10, 1926, page 9
  2. ^ "The Electric Fountain at the Prospect Park Plaza, Brooklyn". The Electrical World 30. Retrieved 2011-08-20. "the Prospect Park Plaza, Brooklyn, generally known as "The Circle," and on the lines of the Brooklyn Heights and Nassau Railway companies' systems" 
  3. ^ "X_Value=-73.970156&Y_Value=40.674253". USGS Elevation Web Service Query. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2011-06-24. 
  4. ^ "Bailey Fountain" (Historical Signs Project webpage for park marker). Grand Army Plaza. nycgovparks.org. Retrieved 2011-08-19. 
  5. ^ "Prospect Park". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 20, 1867. p. 2. Retrieved 2011-08-02. "Entering at the main entrance or plaza, the visitor leaves on either side the mounds which flank the spot selected for the Fountain of the Gold Spray." 
  6. ^ White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot (2000 - 4th Edition). AIA Guide to New York City. New York Chapter, American Institute of Architects; Crown Publishers/Random House. ISBN 0-8129-3106-8. 
  7. ^ a b Lancaster, Clay (1972) [1967]. Prospect Park Handbook. New York: Long Island University Press. ISBN 0-913252-06-9. "On 20 October 1917 Brooklyn celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening of Prospect Park, and the ceremony took place at the triumphal arch on Grand Army Plaza." 
  8. ^ "Grand Army Plaze" on the Prospect Park Alliance website
  9. ^ New York Times, $7,120,000 Library Planned in Brooklyn, February 19, 1931, page 1 (subscription required)
  10. ^ Brooklyn Public Library, Annual Report, 1944-45, page 13
  11. ^ "Grand Army Plaze: Henry W. Maxwell Memorial" on the NYC.gov website
  12. ^ White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot with Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195383867. , p.669
  13. ^ Ziegenfuss, Kathleen. "Grand Army Plaza". Hall of Shame. PPS.org. Retrieved 2011-08-01. "In 1975, Grand Army Plaza became a National Historic Landmark" 
  14. ^ Design Trust
  15. ^ Grand Army Plaza enhancements

External links[edit]