Brooklyn’s greenest oasis celebrates 150

Secret Service personnel step off a Marine helicopter before the Marine One helicopter, with President Barack Obama aboard, lands in Prospect Park in Brooklyn borough of New York, Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, as he arrived to visit Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH).
Associated Press / Charles Dharapak, File

It was no April Fools’ joke that on the first day of this month thousands congregated, ran, walked, rode, in celebration of a green space marking a century and half of existence in New York.

The joke was on cautious weather-watchers who missed out on a day celebrating the historic opening of Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

Despite predictions of continuous drizzles and intermittent downpours throughout the weekend wiser souls experienced the beginning of a yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary celebration of the Brooklyn landmass and no prank was likely to elude that.

“This year marks a major milestone for ‘Brooklyn’s backyard,’ and Parks is honored to be a part of the celebration,” Mitchell Silver, the NYC Parks Department Commissioner, said in a statement.

“For 30 years, the partnership with Prospect Park Alliance has made it possible for such a beloved outdoor space to thrive and become the destination it is today.”

Together they planned a host of activities including a parade, several running and walking tours, and an exhibition ballgame. The weekend’s celebration served as a precursor to the plethora of events scheduled for the upcoming months – among them concerts by the New York Philharmonic, a fundraising party on the boathouse, several site-specific art installations, and an exhibit at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

“Celebrating the park’s 150th anniversary reminds me of being married there and the days I spent coaching baseball and taking my children to the playgrounds,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“Prospect Park is one of New York City’s jewels and a landmark in the life of my family.”

The park was designed by noted landscape architects Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the same duo that also designed Central Park in Manhattan.

The project broke ground in 1866, and an opening day event was held the following year with thousands of visitors in attendance. The 526-acre park was not fully completed that year. It took a 30-year period from 1865-1895 for major work to be completed.

The Prospect Park Alliance got involved in the 1980s, and the Park has been run as a public-private partnership between the city and the Alliance since 1987.

The park is home to one of the best free summer concert series in New York. Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival began in 1979 as a catalyst for a burgeoning Brooklyn performing arts scene. Allegedly “established to bring people back into the park after years of neglect, the festival was an early anchor in Brooklyn’s renaissance and has become one of the city’s foremost summer cultural attractions.”

Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is NYC’s longest-running summer outdoor performance festival. Throughout its 38-year history, the festival has presented more than 2,000 artists, drawing a diverse audience upwards of 200,000 each season.

On June 7, Lake Street Dive a Brooklyn-based band will open the 39th annual season at the Prospect Park Bandshell.

Some of pop music’s most distinguished talents have opened the series. Chaka Khan, Jimmy Cliff and Janelle Monae are the most recent opening night attractions. A diverse array of musicians annually fill the bill delivering zouk, soca, Afro-pop, jazz, country, gospel, spoken word, reggae and hip-hop. Steel Pulse, Burning Spear and the Marley brothers have headlined concerts in the historic park.

Happy 150th birthday Prospect Park.

TT Ranks Happiest Caribbean Nation

World Happiness Day (March 20) left populations saddened that countries and continents are not as happy as they could/should be.

The annual international commemoration is an official United Nations calendar event that “recognizes the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal.”

It also acknowledges “the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples.”

In an annual report issued by the UN, citizens in a myriad of countries are not very happy.

Of 155-countries surveyed, the happiest Caribbean people are those residing in Trinidad & Tobago.

Ranked happiest of the region, the twin islanders placed 38th.

The top four that could be considered part of the wider region were the mainland countries of Mexico (25), Guatemala (29), Panama (30) and Colombia (36).

Next up were another two Central American countries: Nicaragua (43) and Belize (50) followed by Jamaica in 76th place.

Venezuela, which came in 82nd, was one of three countries to experience the biggest happiness drops in recent years.

The Dominican Republic (86) and Honduras (91) followed, while Haiti, ranked 145th, brought up the regional rear.

Happiness is increasingly considered a significant marker of social progress and is measured by the report on the basis of six key variables: GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support (as measured by having someone to count on in times of trouble), trust (as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business), perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity (as measured by recent donations).

The fifth annual report named Norway the world’s happiest nation, up from fourth place last year.

This year, Norway edged out fellow Scandinavians in Denmark for the title spot followed by Iceland and Switzerland, rounding out the four countries in the Nordic region that consistently performs well within the UN’s report. Denmark dropped to second place this year after topping the list for three years.

Other happy nationals were Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Australia and Sweden (which tied for ninth place).

Germany came in 16th place for the second year, while the United Kingdom moved up four spots from 23rd to 19th place and Russia moved up seven spots to 49th place.

Japan moved up two spots to 51st place, while China at 79th is no happier than it was 25 years ago.

At the lower end of the scale, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Central Africa Republic make up the final three places (153-155).

Just one place higher is war-torn Syria.

According to the UN report, “much of Africa is struggling” and there are “considerable inequalities” in African countries. This has increased the amount of unhappiness within the past few years. Only Sierra Leone (106th) and Cameroon (107th) have seen significant improvement in the last decade, the report said.

Overall, the countries that have improved the most are Nicaragua, Latvia, and Sierra Leone, while Greece, the Central African Republic and Venezuela have had the biggest happiness drops in recent years.

The report shows no improvement for the United States, which fell from 13th to 14th in one year. The editor reporting the studies commented on the demise of the homeland saying: “The USA is a story of reduced happiness.”

“As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact.”

America’s ranking fell from the third happiest country in 2007 to the 14th in 2016.

Catch You On The Inside!

More from Around NYC