Fort Greene Park in addition to being Brooklyn's first official park & one of the larger islands of nature in the city, is a historical landmark. If you've lived in or around Brooklyn long enough you likely know something of that history. Between the Sailor's & Soldier Martyrs crypt, it's location in an historic neighborhood, it's monumental tower, once again lit each night Fort Greene Park history is hard to miss.
The first time I rode to the top I was about 17 and the city emerged upward as I climbed the park's summit. It was a cinematic reveal. This past Wednesday's sky was full of blue and warm with light, I wanted to experience the city that way, as a wide vista. The metal, glass and panorama of the city is different now but the view didn't disappoint.
What has been easy to overlook for me at least is a structure at the top of the park less monumental but vital and packed with historical artifacts. It's the comfort station, that has become the Fort Greene Park Visitor's Center. Before making off to the next errand it dawned on me nature was calling and the public restrooms in the Visitor's Center were the reason I was there.
The Visitors Center a neoclassical structure that was built in 1908 with the Monument. I'm embarrassed to say I only know it as the best free bathroom in Fort Greene. But to get to the bathrooms you need to enter and pass through the Visitor's Center and then Wednesday for the first time I really looked around and found over 200 years of history just waiting for me to notice it.
American Revolutionary period flags hang prominently from the ceiling.
Muskets and their small metal ammo are in cases around the park house, and very interesting is that many of the artifacts like the musket rounds were found in the park some as recently as in 2005.
This canon was used by the British Army during revolutionary times.
The map above shows the 1873 park layout along side today's layout.
I gained all this knowledge from the Parks Department workers who were friendly hosts and happy to share the park's history. Even going so far as to show me the park turtle (he's been under the weather) and the pelt of a squirrel.
I won't lie, I thought the squirrel hide was gross, but interesting in that once upon a time in this very city that hide would be a form of currency.
For more information on Fort Greene Park and it's year long schedule of events check the Fort Greene Park Conservancy's website at http://www.fortgreenepark.org/