Back in 1867, Prospect Park designers Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmstead designed a formal lakefront landscape in the northeast corner of Prospect Park. Meant to provide a tranquil area for families and musicians, it included a small cove with a little island near the edge of the Lake, surrounded by esplanades. Because musicians would row out to the island to provide entertainment to those out for Sunday afternoon strolls, it came to be known as Music Island, and the area surrounding it was called Concert Grove.
Then came Robert Moses. In 1959, he had the island bulldozed, filled in much of the cove, and built an ice skating rink in its place, below. What was left of Concert Grove and its ornate pavillions fell into a state of disrepair. Slowly, though, it began to come back. The pavillions were restored in the late 1980s, and on Friday, thanks to a $74 Million restoration, the restored Music Island, lakefront esplanade, and Concert Grove will open to the public once again. The ribbon-cutting will include the dedication of the Chaim Baier Music Island and the Shelby White and Leon Levy Esplanade, which will be open on weekends.
In order to return Music Island to Olmstead and Vaux's original vision, nearly 10,000 cubic yards of dirt had to be removed, and over 3,000 cubic yards were brought in to rebuild it, according to the New York Times. Below is how the area looks now, with Music Island at center. And this is only Phase 1: next year two skating rinks and a 25,000 square foot facility will open nearby.
Photos via Prospect Park Alliance