Tag: Exploring Manhattan Block by Block

Prospect Park Zoo                450 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11225

Prospect Park Zoo 450 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11225

The Prospect Park Zoo

450 Flatbush Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11225

(718) 220-5100

https://prospectparkzoo.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d283820-Reviews-Prospect_Park_Zoo-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

The Prospect Park Zoo is one of my ‘go to’ places along with the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when visiting Brooklyn. The three popular destinations are all in the same neighborhood and if you have a full day is worth the subway ride from Manhattan to visit.

The entrance to the Prospect Park Zoo

On a nice day, the best place to start is the Brooklyn Botanical Garden at opening, then head over through the back part of the garden to Prospect Park and walk to the entrance near Flatbush Avenue and go past the carousel and enter the Zoo past the old Leffert’s Homestead. The Zoo is just past that.

The Leffert’s Homestead in Prospect Park

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d103505-Reviews-Lefferts_Homestead-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review of the Leffert’s Homestead on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/2864

The best part of the Prospect Park Zoo is that like the Central Park Zoo it is small enough to see in one day and be able to enjoy the exhibitions in one afternoon and still have time for lunch.

The Map of the Zoo

The main focus of the zoo when you walk through the gates is the seal tanks. These playful animals spend most of their time swimming around or sunning themselves on a warm day. During the feeding schedule, it is interesting to see how they interact with the trainers.

The Seal exhibition

Walking further into the zoo you will walk past the Hall of Animals, where all the smaller animals and amphibians like frogs, snakes and turtles are located. These are a lot of fun for the smaller children who may not see these things in their backyards or even in the parks anymore.

Beyond that is the Barn, where your horses and cows are located and they even have a pair of turkeys, which makes for interesting conversation for children who wonder where they come from at Thanksgiving. The turkeys here are more bred than the wild ones you will see in the woods.

The turkey!

Next to the Hall of Animals is the Animal Lifestyle exhibition where a lot of the gorillas and monkeys are located. It is funny to watch their mannerisms and see ourselves and out behaviors in them. I guess a couple of thousand years never really separated us that much and we still are a lot alike.

From there you will take the Discovery Trail to see more familiar animals that you might see in every day nature such as deer, foxes, porcupines, ducks and geese in a more natural habitat where they can roam free. The space is limited but they look a lot happy to move around than some of the other animals.

All trails lead back to the Seal Tanks where the popular feeding time gathers a crowd and you will see the care that many of the trainers and zoo keepers give to their residents. There is a lot of love for these animals that is given and I can see a lot of respect.

The seals here have a personality

A trip to the snack shop and gift shops at the zoo are expensive and cater to the tourists. They are not as nicely merchandised as the Bronx Zoo or the Central Park Zoo. Still they are fun to visit once or twice.

The Prospect Park Zoo is still a nice afternoon out for families and a nice way to communicate with nature.

The History of the Prospect Park Zoo:

The Prospect Park Zoo is a 12 acre zoo located in Prospect Park, Brooklyn and as of 2016 houses 864 animals. The zoo was originally part of the plan of Prospect Park as a “Zoological Garden” in the western part of the park. The zoo was not part of the finished plan in the park in 1874 by designers Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.

The original zoo layout

The park design included a Wild Fowl Pond in the northern part of the park that was stop off for water birds and a Deer Paddock in the southern part of the zoo where deer lived in a penned area.

In the 1890’s, gardens were created for park enjoyment and a informal Menagerie was created by the Brooklyn Parks Commission, George V. Brower, when the donation of small bear, white deer, seven seals, a cow and twelve peacocks came into the possession of the park.

In 1934, Parks Department head Robert Moses set a plan to reconstruct the City’s Parks and under the Works Progress Administration started to revamp the park system. In March of that year architect Aymar Embury II set to design the new zoo with six new buildings and centered by a Seal Pool.

By the 1970’s, the zoo faced disrepair and was neglect for the animals. It was considered one of the worst zoo’s in the country according to the press and finally in 1980, the Koch Administration signed a 50 year agreement with the NY Zoological Society, now called the Wildlife Conservation Society, which was also administrating the Central Park and Queens Zoo.

The new Prospect Park Wildlife Conservation Center

The park closed in 1988 for a five year, 37 million dollar renovation that gutted all the pits and cages but saved the historic buildings and statuary. The new zoo opened in 1993 with a new name, “The Prospect Park Wildlife Conservation Center” and a philosophy of educating children. The zoo along with the Queens Zoo have had some shortfalls in the past but have the full support of the Society and the public since the early 2000’s. Still the zoo remains popular with families from all over Brooklyn and the world.

(This information is provided by Wiki and the Wildlife Conservatory website and I give them both full credit for the information)

Central Park Zoo  Fifth Avenue and East 64th Street New York, NY 10021

Central Park Zoo Fifth Avenue and East 64th Street New York, NY 10021

Central Park Zoo

Fifth Avenue and East 64th Street

New York, NY 10021

(212) 439-6500

https://centralparkzoo.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-4:30pm

Fee: Adults $12.00/Seniors (65+) $10.00/Children (3-12)$8.00/Total Experience Adults $16.00/Seniors (65+) $15.00/Children (3-12) $12.00

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d267703-Reviews-Central_Park_Zoo-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

I love coming to the Central Park Zoo when I am visiting the Upper East Side. The zoo is a nice to just relax and reflect from the hustle and bustle of the City. On a quiet midweek day, there is nothing like going to the 2:00pm seal feeding at all times of the year. The seals get so excited and the humans like seeing the seals in their playful mood.

The Seal feedings are a lot of fun.

The zoo is small so touring it will only take about an hour or so to see all the exhibitions. You have a choice of seeing the monkeys, the birds, the seals and the penguins. They finally moved the polar bear out of the zoo a few years ago and he always looked so bored with his life. He would give you a look like ‘get me out of here’.

The Central Park Zoo is set up with different exhibitions.

The smaller animals like the monkeys and the penguins look like they are having more fun in their enclosed homes with more room to move around. They always look at us as visitors in an amusing way like why are we so interested in them. It is an interesting interaction with the animals there to see their reaction to us.

There is also more birds, amphibians and bats to see in other exhibitions around the zoo and smaller outside areas to view the smaller animals such as pandas and leopards that have finally been given space to roam around.

The penguin exhibition

There is also a nice gift shop just outside the zoo and the Dancing Crane Cafe is the zoo restaurant which is over-priced and the food the few times I have tried it was mediocre. It is not like the cafe up at the Bronx Zoo that was pretty decent.

Don’t miss the hourly concert at Delacorte Clock when the animal sculptures dance to the music played. It is such an enjoyable experience.

The Delacorte Clock that plays music hourly

History of the Zoo:

The Zoo was not originally part of the layout for Central Park when designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. A small menagerie developed on the edge of the park with exotic animals that had been donated to the park starting with a bear cub tied to a tree in 1859 and a monkey in 1860. Other animals came later including cranes, a peacock and a goldfish.

The original menagerie

In 1860, the American Zoological and Botanical Society wanted to create a zoo somewhere in New York City. In 1864, the zoo received a formal charter, making it the second publicly owned zoo behind the Philadelphia Zoo. Though a formal zoo had not yet been created, the menagerie, with its free admission and good location made it the most popular attraction in Central Park.

By the 1930’s, the menagerie had become run down and was not sufficient to hold the animals. In 1834, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia hired Robert Moses to head the unified Parks Department and a new more formal zoo was created. The new zoo was opened on December 2nd, 1934 and by 1936 over six million people had visited the zoo.

By 1967, the zoo was again falling apart due to years of negligence and budget cuts. New York City’s fiscal crisis had affected the Parks System and conditions had gone downhill. In 1980, The Wildlife Conservatory (the former NY Zoological Society) signed a fifty year agreement in April of that year and started a renovation of the zoo from 1982 to its opening in 1988.

When the Zoo opened in August of 1988, the concept of the zoo had changed. The Wildlife Conservation Society had taken over the Queens Zoo, the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn and already had possession of the Bronx Zoo and the direction of the society was toward conservation and care of animals while the Prospect Zoo was to be used as a Children’s Zoo and the Queens Zoo would concentrate on North American animals. The Children’s Zoo next to the Central Park Zoo went through its own renovation in the late 1990’s and is now called the Tisch Children’s Zoo after businessman, Laurence Tisch who had donated most of the money for the renovation.

The structures and concept of what a zoo is has changed over the years.

(This information was taken from both Wiki and the Central Park Zoo History)

Bronx Zoo                              2300 Southern Boulevard Bronx, NY 10460

Bronx Zoo 2300 Southern Boulevard Bronx, NY 10460

The Bronx Zoo

2300 Southern Boulevard

The Bronx, NY 10460

(718) 367-1010

https://bronxzoo.com/

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm

Fee: Members Free/Adults-Full Experience $39.95/Senior Full Experience $34.99/Child (3-12) $29.99/Child (under 3) Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d136079-Reviews-Bronx_Zoo-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

I have been coming to the Bronx Zoo since I was five years old and I never really thought it changed that much over the years. I recently went to a Private Members Night last Fall (See Day One Hundred and in MywalkinManhattan.com) and realized that I had not been there since they opened the Congo Gorilla Forest exhibition and that was in the late 90’s. I had not been in the zoo for over twenty years. A lot has changed since I visited back in 1997. A lot of new exhibitions have opened and renovations made.

Map of the Zoo

My blog on the Private Members Night at the Bronx Zoo on MywalkinManhattan.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/9545

The Zoo covers about 265 acres of the park in the middle of The Bronx. I took the time to walk all through the park and visiting all the exhibitions, riding on the train and on the monorail system looking over all the animals in their natural habitats set up by the zoo.

I revisited the Congo Gorilla Forest, the Worlds of Birds and Reptiles, exploring the African Plains that I rode past on the monorail system and walked through Jungle World. I really got to visit the park in more detail than I ever had before.

Congo Gorilla Forest

The one thing I really liked about the Zoo was I had never noticed the architecture of the buildings and fountains that I had passed when I was younger and had a real appreciation for them. Most had been around the turn of the last century when the philosophy of looking at animals was different. The graceful stone buildings have beautiful animal carvings all over them.

The Monkey Building

The best part was since it was a rather gloomy night out there were not that many members in the zoo so I got to ride the rides and walk through the Tree Top Maze with crowds behind me rushing the experience.

I finished the evening visiting the new Dinosaur exhibition and that was creepy. There were dinosaur replications hiding in the woods making sounds and looking at you as you passed. It had been a very popular exhibition that summer.

The Dinosaur Safari

For dinner that evening, I enjoyed the Dancing Crane Cafe, the main restaurant in the zoo. I was impressed that the food was really good. It was mostly kid samples like pizza and chicken fingers but everything was really fresh and everything was cooked for us.

The Dancing Crane Cafe inside the Zoo

I looked over the zoo with a fresh pair of eyes without the throngs of visitors that you normally see there. I enjoyed looking over the animals in a more natural habitat that a lot of zoos don’t offer.

The History of The Bronx Zoo:

In 1895, a group made up of members of the Boone and Crockett Club founded the New York Zoological Society with the purpose of founding the zoo. The architectural team of Heins & LaFarge designed the original permanent buildings as a series of Beaux-Arts pavilions grouped around the sea lion pool.

The old Reptile Building

The Rockefeller Fountain was bought to the park in 1902 from another part of the park. It had been built in 1872 and was moved to the front of the zoo by the Rockefeller family and is now surrounded by a series of gardens as you enter the park from the parking lot.

The Rockefeller Fountain

When the zoo opened, it featured 843 animals in twenty-two exhibitions around the park. The zoo has been home to many exotic animals many being the first of their kind in a zoo. At various times in its history, the park has featured Komodo Dragons, Andean flamingos and a Sumatran rhinoceros.

Today the park is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The main exhibitions are the Congo Gorilla Forest, Jungle World, the Wild Asia Monorail, Madagascar!, Tiger Mountain, the African Plains, the World of Birds, the World of Reptiles and the Zoo Center. There are also various restaurants and snack shops throughout the park (that were closed the evening I went there), a carousel and a playground.

The Tree Top Maze is a lot of fun to climb

(This information on the park comes from Zoo history and Wiki)

Bowling Green Park                         Broadway & Whitehall Street                 New York, NY 10004

Bowling Green Park Broadway & Whitehall Street New York, NY 10004

Bowling Green Park

Broadway & Whitehall Street

New York, NY  10004

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/bowling-green

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/bowling-green/history

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136413-Reviews-Bowling_Green-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

I visited this wonderful park for my walking project, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com-Day 113-Walking the Historical Bars & Pubs of New York City’.

This is one of the most fascinating parks in New York City and probably one the most historical in the shaping of the United States. Located on the grounds of the original Dutch settlement, this tiny park placed an important role in the confrontation of the Loyalist versus the Patriots when deciding who to support during the Revolutionary War. The toppling of the King George Statue was the beginning of a new Republic. Along the historic fence which has been standing in the park since the late 1700’s are the markings where the tiny crowns were sawed off by the Patriots in defiance to the Crown.

Bowling Green Park III

The toppling of the statute of King George

Now it is a resting spot for tired tourists off the boats from Ellis and Liberty Islands and for Wall Street workers who need a nice place to eat their lunch. It is still a relaxing little park with tree lined paths and a beautifully landscaped fountain area. In the later summer, the flowers are still in bloom and the colorful highlights of the trees accent all sides of the park and keep it private. Even in this secrete setting it is mind boggling of the fact that people put their lives on the line to establish this country right from this tiny park.

Bowling Green Park IV

Map of Lower Manhattan

Take time to walk through the cool paths of trees to the edges of the park, which are lines with historic buildings with decorative stone work and look at the beautiful statuary work on the old U.S. Custom House that now serves as the Museum of the American Indian. Take a quick tour of Stone Street just a few blocks away and see the development of the New York City after the Great Fire of 1823, which destroyed most of lower Manhattan.

Just at the tip of the norther part of the park is the famous statue of ‘Charging Bull’ a gift to the City by artist Arturo Di Modica to show the ‘strength of the American people’ and the now becoming famous statue of “Fearless Girl” by artist Kristen Visbal which was erected for International Women’s Day. Both statues have created quite the debate since they were both placed here in 1989 and 2017 and their fate is up to the City.

Bowling Green Park II

Take time to really see what all these symbols mean to the Bowling Green.

History of the Park:

The Bowling Green is New York City’s oldest park. According to tradition, this spot served as the council ground for Native American tribes and was the site of the legendary sale of Manhattan to Peter Minuit in 1626. The  Dutch called the area “the Plain” and used it for several purposes including a parade ground, meeting place and cattle market. It marked the beginning of Heere Staat (High Street, now Broadway), a trade route which extended north through Manhattan and the Bronx. In 1686, the site was designated as public property, when the City Charter put all ‘waste, vacant, unpatented and unappropriated lands’ under municipal domain (NYC Parks.org).

Bowling Green was first designated as a park in 1733, when it was offered for rent at the cost of one peppercorn per year. Lessees John Chambers, Peter Bayard and Peter Jay were responsible for improving the site with grass, trees and a wood fence “for the Beauty & Ornament of the Said Street as well as for the Recreation & delight of the Inhabitants of this City.” A gilded lead statue of King George III was erected here in 1770 and the iron fence (now a New York City landmark) was installed in 1771. On July 9, 1776, after the first public reading in New York State of the Declaration of Independence, this monument was toppled by angry citizens who dragged it up Broadway, sent it Connecticut, melted it down and recast it as ammunition. Portions of the statue are held by the Museum of the City of New York and the New York Historical Society (which also possesses musket balls made from the statue’s head) (NYC Parks.org).

By the late 18th Century, Bowling Green was the center of New York’s most fashionable residential district, surrounded by rows of Federal-style townhouses. In 1819, the Common Council that neighbors could plant and tend the area in return for the exclusive use of the park by their families. By mid-century, shipping offices inhabited the old townhouses and the park was returned to more public use. Monuments installed in the park in the 19th century include two fountains (now gone) and a statue of New York’s early Mayor and later colonial Supreme Court Judge Abraham DePeyster (1896, by artist George Bissell). DePeyster was moved to nearby Hanover Square in 1976 and finally to Thomas Paine Park in 2014 (NYC Parks.org).

Bowling Green Park V

In the first decade of the 20th Century, Bowling Green was disrupted by the construction of the IRT subway. The park was rebuilt as  part of citywide improvements made in preparation for visitors to the 1939 World’s Fair. Renovations to Bowling Green included removing the fountain basin, relocating the interior walkways, installing new benches and providing new plantings. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, members of the Board of Estimate and local businessmen participated in the rededication ceremony held on April 6, 1939. Despite unseasonable late snow, the ceremony included a demonstration of colonial era lawn bowling (NYC Parks.org).

A 1976-77 capital investment restored Bowling Green to its 18th century appearance. Improvements included the redistribution of subway entrances, the installation of new lampposts and benches and landscaping. Publisher and philanthropist George Delacourte (best known for the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park) donated the park’s central fountain (NYC Parks.org).

Since December of 1989, the statue of Charging Bull (1987-89) has been on display at the north end of the park. Its sculptor, Arturo DiModica, says the three ton and a half bronze statue represents “the strength, power and hope of the American people for the future.” It has been linked to the property enjoyed by Wall Street in the past decade. In 2004, the reconstruction of the park included new perimeter bluestones sidewalks and interior paths, landscaping, plantings and the re-sodding of the lawn. Antique-style gas lamps and hoof benches were also placed in the park with the addition of a new irrigation system for the parks fountain (New York Parks.org).

Charging Bull II

Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the New York City Parks.org site and I given them full credit for it. This is one of the special parks of the City so take some time to visit it while on your way to one of the other tourist sites or to Liberty Island or Ellis Island.