Dispatches

The World Inverted

Flocking to parks seeking comfort and escape,  New Yorkers are finding controversy instead. Warmer temperatures bring people outdoors and too close together, leading to stricter limitations on access to open space combined with a greater police presence. Though it has seen its share of crowds in recent weeks, Prospect Park has been spared this level of enforcement (for now). True to its original design as a refuge from the toils of 19th century urban life, the park’s sheer size and variety of landscapes offers space for recreation to be sure, but also contemplation. While in-person tours are on hold for now, landscape historian and tour guide Kate Papacosma leads us through some of the expansive meadows and more hidden pleasures of Prospect Park, while highlighting the importance of protecting what some may call a crucial public health infrastructure, or simply a place of healing in a wounded city.

Prospect Park Lake at dusk photographed by Kate Papacosma in May 2020.

A selection of reflective images of Prospect Park, posted on Instagram in the weeks following New York City’s shutdown.

Kate Papacosma is a landscape historian, writer, editor, and educator who has lived in Park Slope for 21 years. She leads tours of Prospect Park, Green-Wood Cemetery, and Central Park, both independently and for institutions and groups such as the Municipal Art Society, NYCH2O, Open House New York, PS 107, and Victorian Society New York. She has taught at The New School and elsewhere, in the classroom and beyond.