Photographer Larry Racioppo, whose work is on display in our current exhibition on Prospect Park for the park's 150th anniversary, shares some memories and photos of the park in this guest post. Racioppo is also working on our Third Avenue blog series with blogger One More Folded Sunset.
Prospect Park was a part of my life long before I became a photographer. Glued to the black construction paper pages of Racioppo and Tenga family albums are photos of my parents and their friends posing ‘dressed up’ in the park or just outside it, along its stone walls.
There are photos here of me and my cousins on the swings and seesaws at the 9th Street playground, on white blankets in the meadow.
As a boy, I played football and softball here, rode the Swan boats and went sleigh riding in the winter.
In 1965 I left South Brooklyn for college and then VISTA. I returned in 1970 and eventually moved to 15th Street and 6th Avenue, at the end of Park Slope. I made most of these photographs in the 1970’s while I lived in the South Slope, had very little money and was learning how to photograph.
On one of my first return visits to the Park, I walked past the sandbox near Prospect Park West, between 15th Street and the Bandshell. I suddenly had the strangest déjà vu feeling and then rememebered that I had often played here.
Entering the Park across the street from the Sanders theater (now the Pavilion), I frequently walked to the lake near the tennis courts along an unnamed path between West Drive and Prospect Park Southwest. It was quiet and secluded, featuring a set of massive ‘ancient’ stairs.
Other times I walked closer to Prospect Park West, passing the decaying bandshell, on my way through the meadow to Grand Army Plaza.
I liked places officially recognized as beautiful, like the Boathouse, but I was drawn more strongly to old stairways and trees carved with couples’ names.
Over the years, I walked alone, or with dates, friends, and other photographers. Sometimes keeping to myself, other times engaging the great variety of people I met, from kite flyers to skateboarders, from picnickers to sleigh riders.
I enjoyed the Park as day turned to night, and especially on my favorite holiday - Halloween.
All photos (c) Larry Racioppo. You can see more of Racioppo's Brooklyn-themed work on his website, larryracioppo.com.
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