- Prospect Park circa 1972.
As long as we’re on the subject of New York’s great, formerly scary Olmstead-Vaux parks, let’s look at Prospect Park, as the Times does on the occasion of the longtime park administrator Tupper Thomas’s announcement of her retirement after 30 years of running the park. It’s a total puff piece, but then, the woman did run Prospect Park for the last 30 years, so, you know.
Prospect Park in the 70s was, we’re told, a shady expanse of drugs, mugging and murder; the savvy Ms. Thomas (and, perhaps, changing economic conditions in recent decades?) oversaw its transition back to the hub of Brooklyn life we all know and love and drink semilegally in when it’s nice out. Prospect Park boasts nine million annual visitors, versus less than a quarter of that number in 1980. (Though Thomas notes that the Ravine remains “the park’s pronounced color line, dividing white residents from Park Slope from black residents who lived to the south and east of the park”.)
The article is accompanied by a then-and-now slide show, from which the above photo is taken; disappointingly, for those of us who live for archival Times photos of bad old New York City, the slide show tilts rather heavily towards photos taken by a single freelancer this past weekend.