In November 2020, one of the most striking features of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park reopened after a long restoration process. After years of being hidden, the Endale Arch once again offers the portal into the park that its designers envisioned.
Landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux unveiled their vision for Prospect Park in the 1860s. They saw this arch, one of the first architectural elements constructed in the park, as a “transporting entrance to the majestic Long Meadow from Grand Army Plaza,” according to the Prospect Park Alliance. It was intended as a pedestrian passage beneath Park Drive that was bustling with carriages and horses, and when it first opened to the public, the New York Times described Endale Arch as a “thing of beauty.”
Over more than 150 years since the arch was built, it has deteriorated and needed extensive repair work. The restoration process started in 2015. The stone retaining walls and surrounding hillsides were stabilized. Drainage was fixed to reduce the potential flooding and water damage. In the final phase of the project, the interior of the arch and the exterior stonework was restored. The $500,000 renovation project took almost five years to complete.
The wood panels lining the inside of the arch were hidden under years of dirt, grime, and graffiti (as well as layers of anti-graffiti paint). But now the white pine and black walnut wood paneling that was hidden for nearly a century has been restored. The arch finally looks like it did when it was first was built in the 19th century, except for the newly-added LED lighting that illuminates the interior at dusk.