This 30-acre park sits on land that housed military forts during the Revolutionary War. In 1847, the area was designated Brooklyn’s first park (a measure supported by newspaper editor Walt Whitman); by 1896, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Olmsted – famed designers of Central Park and Prospect Park – were redesigning the place into the attractive hilltop landscape it is today. There are walkways, tennis courts, ball fields and a playground.
At the center of the park stands the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument, at the time of its construction the world’s tallest Doric column at 149ft. Designed by Stanford White (of prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead & White), it was built in 1905 to memorialize the 11,500 American prisoners of war who died in wretched conditions in British prison ships during the American Revolution. Some of their remains are interred in a crypt beneath its base.
If you're there on a Saturday don't miss the year-round Greenmarket featuring all kinds of fresh regional produce, held at the southeastern corner of the park. In autumn months (from September to mid-November) it's joined by an artisan market featured locally made artwork and crafts from independent artists.