Elegant and sketchy, welcoming and insular, the striated band of roadway, trees and people called Ocean Parkway both reflects Brooklyn and divides it with a thick green line. It was designed about a century and a half ago as a place to promenade, to socialize, to pleasure-drive or to settle, on a street that looks like a park. The architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux were inspired by the grand tree-lined boulevards of Europe, like Avenue Foch in Paris and Unter den Linden in Berlin.Ocean Parkway held the first bike path in the country ... in 1894. Its northernmost extent was lost to the Robert Moses' Prospect Expressway in the 1950s. While it once extended to Prospect Park, at Park Circle, it now ends at Church Avenue. The City designated Ocean Parkway a scenic landmark in 1975. Today, the Parkway is managed in part by the Parks Department.
- A Tree-Lined Boulevard That’s a Park and a Living Room, Kareem Fahim, Brooklyn Journal, New York Times, online: 2008-10-10, print: 2008-10-11
Five and a half miles long, it stretches from Prospect Park to Brooklyn’s beaches at Coney Island. The parkway is divided according to function. The center lane is only for private vehicles, and was intended for pleasure driving, originally for horse-drawn carriages. It is flanked by two greenswards, planted with trees and grass, which lend the road a park-like atmosphere and provide a place for pedestrians to stroll. Outside the greenswards are service roads for local and commercial traffic.
The City of Brooklyn acquired the land for Ocean Parkway in 1868. When the Parkway was built, between 1874 and 1876, it started at Park Circle, which is now known as Police Officer Robert Machate Circle, at the southern entrance of Prospect Park. The Parkway’s central drive quickly became a popular place for impromptu horse and carriage races; jockeys referred to it as the Ocean Parkway Speedway.
- Ocean Parkway, Parks Department