Running Brooklyn: winter solstice at Prospect Park’s new LeFrak Center

The Weekly Nabe - Running Brooklyn - LeFrak Center

Circuitous.

With the mercury on Saturday topping 60, the snow of a week prior was a distant memory, and any lingering remnants were fading on what the calendar claimed was the first day of winter.

It was in these trying conditions that I took my camera on a run around the new Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center, also known as Lakeside. I wore shorts and a t-shirt, and when I stopped for several minutes to speak with a colleague, I felt not the slightest chill.

I’ve long been excited to take these new paths for a spin. They should be a beautiful addition to any run, their curves slowly revealing long-unseen aspects of the park. It’s also fun to say that you ran across a pair of roofs.

I had visited the in-progress facility in June. The crowd on Saturday, the rinks’ (plural!) second day of operation, was a far cry from a group of just 12 on a guided tour.

The view from the roof at one end of the indoor rink.

The view from the roof at one end of the indoor rink.

Children and adults alike twirled – and fell – on the ice, their glee complemented by a cappella versions of holiday carols ranging from O Holy Night to Happy Xmas (War Is Over). A few patrons took in the view from atop the buildings, the roofs of which are tastefully connected.

Prospect Park Lakeside LeFrak Center - 25

Two levels of entertainment!

Out in Lakeside proper – among 26 acres dotted with replicas of 19th-century urns, actual 19th-century water fountains, and an enormous statue of Abraham Lincoln – a pair showed a different use for the new space.

Prospect Park Lakeside LeFrak Center - 07

The LeFrak Center comes with a price tag of $74 million – but restores many of the lines of sight blocked by its predecessor, the gaudy Wollman Rink. Robert Moses jammed that one through in 1961, destroying the original vision of Olmsted and Vaux with what critic Michael Kimmelman calls ”fenced-off, decrepit relic of [Moses'] take-no-prisoners approach.”

A vast expanse. (That rescue ladder - #1 - marks the site of the original rink.)

A vast expanse. (The rescue ladder at left – designated #1 – marks the site of the original rink.)

One of the many drawbacks of Wollman Rink was a huge parking lot where the new skating-areas now sit, much more in tune with the surroundings. When asked about it on my June tour, landscape architect Christian Zimmerman told us there’d be plenty of bike parking instead, saying, “We just figured we’d need a lot of that.” Indeed.

The architect, on bike parking, previously: "We just figured we'd need a lot of that."More bikes.Still more bikes.

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2 Responses to Running Brooklyn: winter solstice at Prospect Park’s new LeFrak Center

  1. Did you see my kids? They went without me. :) and (;

  2. Pingback: That’s Rather Historic: Historic Maps Reveal the Secrets of Four Iconic NYC Parks - The Broker Buddy

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