On Friday, the city and the Prospect Park Alliance unveiled design plans to renovate Grand Army Plaza, including the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch and the landscaped berms.
“Grand Army Plaza is an iconic Brooklyn destination, welcoming New Yorkers and visitors from across the world to beautiful Prospect Park,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “The restoration of the Arch and the surrounding landscape will ensure the Plaza is magnificent for generations to come.”
The restoration will replace the Memorial Arch’s roof, repair interior elements, including the iron staircases that lead up to the roof, and upgrade the exterior lighting with new, energy-efficient fixtures.
For the surrounding plaza and landscaped berms, the project will remove invasive vines, shrubs and trees that are in poor condition, and plant mostly native trees.
The existing chain link fence will be replaced with low, decorative steel fencing. The broken bluestone and granite paving will also be restored.
“As more Brooklynites and New Yorkers flock to our world-class park, it’s more critical than ever that we preserve and improve upon this infrastructure,” Borough President Eric Adams said.
Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, who created Prospect Park, designed Grand Army Plaza to be the formal entrance to the Brooklyn green space in 1867.
In 1892, the arch was dedicated to commemorate Union troops who fought during the Civil War. On top of the arch is a quadriga of Colubmia, representing the United States and two winged Victories trumpeting her arrival.
The plaza was redesigned in the early 1900s when the subway line was constructed below, but it retained its original form and layout. The plaza’s fountain was replaced in the 1930s, and paving around the fountain was changed from asphalt hex block to bluestone borders and granite block.
The Memorial Arch was landmarked in 1975. The city restored the structure in 1977 and again in 1989.
The nonprofit group Prospect Park Alliance will lead the restoration project, which is expected to begin in late 2021 or early 2022. It will reopen to the public in 2023.
The group is also restoring the adjacent northeast corner of the park, including fixing the perimeter along Flatbush Avenue, building two new entrances and restoring pathways, benches and lighting.
Alliance president Sue Donoghue said Grand Army Plaza is a Brooklyn treasure and welcoming entranceway for the park.
“Our award-winning team of architects and landscape architects has undertaken the restoration of many important park destinations, from the Carousel to the LeFrak Center at Lakeside,” Donoghue said, “and this work is central to our mission in the park.”