It is easy to get lost in Prospect Park – and I did.
Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s counterpart to Manhattan’s Central Park. Designed by the same landscape architects, Olmsted and Vaux, it is no less attractive but more a landscape than a designed park. Brooklynites like to spend their Sundays there. Black and white, young and old, people with kids and people with books. People have barbecues, play volleyball, run kites, walk, bike or just lie on the grass.
My Big Onion Guide to Brooklyn offers a walk through Prospect Park starting at 9th Street in Park Slope and ending at Grand Army Plaza. As the latter one is on my way to the park and I wanted to spend the evening in Park Slope I decided to walk in the opposite direction, being aware that it would not be possible to follow the given description then.
Four labeled routes lead through the park, being marked by colored signposts. They did not exactly match the walk in my book but I tried to use them as an orientation. Not all intersections of paths are marked however and there are plenty of paths and intersections. When I came to the boathouse I sat on a bench for a while to read and afterwards tried to find my way to the western exit at 9th Street from there.
The south of the park is spotted by ponds. That’s where I started to get lost. The boathouse was not marked on my map in the book. I followed the path I had come on instead of walking back what I should have done. I ended up in an area without any signposts and was straying around without the faintest idea where I was. Finally I came to an intersection where I spotted red signposts again. 9th Street was shown on them, just not in the direction I thought it would be. I followed the marker but lost it somewhere. I reached a wider path where a lot of people were walking on, so I supposed to be on the way to my exit. The path ended on a driveway going in two directions. No marker around. I asked a woman which direction would take me to the west of the park. She looked confused. “Park Slope, “ I said. “That’s Parkside Avenue?” she asked. I mistook Parkside Avenue with Central Park West and said yes. She directed me to my right. I soon reached an exit following the given direction. But it was Ocean Avenue at Lincoln Road. That’s where I walked yesterday – Prospect Lefferts Gardens, east of Prospect Park.
So between me and my destination lay the park in its full width. How could I get to the other side easily? The shortest way would be just across the park. But I was afraid to lose my way again and end up wherever. I consulted my 7 year-old Brooklyn bus map. I could use a bus on Flatbush Avenue to get to Grand Army Plaza or another one on Ocean Avenue to the southern end of Prospect Park. Both possibilities would require another bus to take me into Park Slope. Buses don’t run frequently on Sundays. But across the street I spotted a subway station. From there I could take a Q or B train to 7th Avenue station in the very north of Park Slope and take a bus from there if I happened to get one or walk if not.
So I finally arrived in Park Slope, just not at about 6:30 as I had planned to linger around and have time look for a suitable restaurant, but an hour later and hungry. Without the muse to walk any more I ended up in a Thai restaurant where I had cherry duck. It was ok, but not what I had in mind – a place to sit and enjoy the coming in of the night.
What I learned today:
Have a park map when you walk a big park. And don’t rely on directions given by people who don’t know where is west.