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1868 Vaux and Olmsted Plan or Map of Prospect Park Construction, Brooklyn, New York

Map Showing Progress of the Works Indicated Below. Up to January 1st, 1868. - Main View

1868 Vaux and Olmsted Plan or Map of Prospect Park Construction, Brooklyn, New York


First year of construction of Prospect Park.


Map Showing Progress of the Works Indicated Below. Up to January 1st, 1868.
  1868 (dated)     13.25 x 19.5 in (33.655 x 49.53 cm)     1 : 6000


A rare 1868 Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted map of Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Illustrating progress made on the park between its opening in 1867 and January 1868, the map depicts the park as a work in progress. Light green shaded areas represent completed areas. Diagonal green lines represent areas where work was in progress. White zones are coded for planned development. The original topography is illustrated as well. Roads (both in progress and finished), walks and bridle roads (both in progress and finished), and 'water surfaces' (both in progress and finished) are illustrated..
Vaux and Olmsted's Masterpiece
This extraordinary map reveals Prospect Park during the first year of its construction from the designs of renowned landscape architects, and indeed 'artists,' Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted. Vaux and Olmsted were awarded the task of designing Prospect Park in 1866 by the Brooklyn Common Council. Olmsted's vision drove the overall design while Vaux concentrated his attentions on bridges, buildings, and other structures. The creation of Prospect Park, which was to consist of some 585 acres of public forest, pathways, promenades, lakes, bridges, and meadows, was a seminal moment in civic urban design. The park itself was designed with every tree, pond, and bench meticulously planned. Olmsted wrote: 'Every foot of the park's surface, every tree and bush, as well as every arch, roadway, and walk had been placed where it is for a purpose.' Though Olmsted is best known for his work in New York's Central Park, he considered Prospect Park, his second park, to be his finest. Today, because of Vaux and Olmsted's efforts, Brooklynites have the privilege of enjoying what is, without question, one of the finest examples of a planned urban public recreation area in the world.
Publication History and Census
This map was created by Vaux and Olmstead, along with C.C. Martin and J. Bogart, the Engineer and Assistant Engineer in Charge of the project, in 1868. It was printed by Hayward, States, and Koch. We note only two cataloged examples which are part of the collections at the Brooklyn Public Library and the New York Public Library.


Calvert Vaux (1824 - 1895) was a British architect and landscaper who is best remembered for his co-design, with Frederick Olmstead, of New York City's Central Park. Born in London in 1824, little is known of his early life, though it is recorded that, at 9 he was apprenticed to London architect Lewis Nockalls Cottingham, a proponent of the Gothic Revival Movement. Vaux worked for Cottingham until he was 26 years old, honing his skills and building a reputation as a skilled draftsman. During an exhibition of his watercolors in 1851, Vaux caught the attention of landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing. Downing was looking for a partner to fulfill his revolutionary vision of urban architectural-landscaping. Dowing recruited Vaux to design buildings, bridges, and structures, while he focused on the overall landscape design. Vaux accompanied Downing to the United States where, in 1854, he gained U.S. citizenship and founded the American Institute of Architects. Vaux's partnership with Downing lasted approximately two years and resulted in a number of significant works, including the grounds of the White and Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. In 1852 Downing passed away in a tragic accident. At the time Downing was working on a landscape design for New York City's Central Park. In a decision that would forever change the American urban landscape, Vaux called in the fledgling landscape designer Frederick Olmstead to fill Downing shoes. Though Central Park was their first joint project, Vaux and Olmstead proved a magical combination, creating what many consider to be the finest planed urban recreation area in the world. Following the completion of Central Park, Vaux and Olmstead formed an official business partnership and went on to design Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Morningside Park in upper Manhattan. They planned one of the first suburbs in Chicago, Riverside, and were commissioned to design parks for Buffalo, NY, Milwaukee, WI, and Rockwood Park in Canada, among others. Vaux ended the partnership in 1872 and went on to collaborate with George Kent Radford and Samuel Parsons. However, in 1889 he again joined forces with Olmstead to design Downing Park, as a memorial to his mentor. Vaux tragically passed away on November 19, 1895, when he drowned in Brooklyn, NY. More by this mapmaker...

Frederick Law Olmsted (April 26, 1822 - August 28, 1903) was an American journalist, landscape designer, and forefather of American landscape architecture. Born April 26, 1822 in Hartford, CT, Olmsted never attended college, instead taking work as a seaman, merchant, and journalist until 1848, when he settled at Tosomock Farm in Staten Island, New York. On June 13, 1859 Olmsted married Mary Cleveland, the widow of his brother John and adopted her three children. Olmsted’s fateful introduction to landscape design occurred in 1850, when a journalism assignment took him to England to visit public gardens. Inspired by Joseph Paxton's Birkenhead Park, he went on to write and publish Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England. This led to additional work with the New York Daily Times (The New York Times) who sent him on an extensive tour through Texas and the American South from 1852 to 1857. It was after this trip that Olmsted wrote his popular criticism of slave economies, A Journey Through Texas. In 1858, Olmsted, along with his design partner, the architect Calvert Vaux, entered and won New York City's Central Park design competition. Though it was their first major landscape design project, the construction of Central Park from 1857 to 1866, created what many consider to be the finest planned urban recreation area in the world. They continued collaborating on such projects as Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Chicago's Riverside Park, the Buffalo park system, Milwaukee's Grand Necklace, and the Niagara Reservation. These were not just parks, but entire systems of parks and interconnecting parkways (which they invented) linking cities to green spaces. In 1883, Olmsted founded the Brookline, MA based Fairsted Company, the first landscape architecture firm in the United States. It was from this office he designed Boston's Emerald Necklace, the campus of Stanford University, the University of Chicago, the 1893 Columbian Exposition, and many other public areas. In 1895 Olmsted retired to Belmont, Massachusetts. Three years later, in 1898, he was admitted McLean Hospital, whose grounds he had designed several years before. He remained a resident and patient there until he passed away in 1903. Olmsted is buried in the Old North Cemetery, Hartford, Connecticut. Learn More...

George Hayward (fl. c. 1850 - 1870) was an American lithographer based in New York City in the middle to late 19th century. Hayward's imprint appears on numerous 19th century maps associated with the Manual of the Corporation of New York, published at various times by David T. Valentine and Joseph Shannon. He also did similar work for William Bishop and Henry McCloskey of Brooklyn. He was involved in various partnerships, publishing at various times as Hayward, States and Koch (171 Pearl Street), Hayward and Lepine (171 Pearl St). Today he is memorialized by Heyward Street in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Learn More...


Good. Wear and light toning along original fold lines. Left side remargined. Top right corner remargined.


Brooklyn Public Library Call Number MAP_PC-1868-01-01. New York Public Library Call Number Map Div. 80-3120.