Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 Million residents, and the second-largest in area. Brooklyn was an independent city until its consolidation with New York City in 1898, and continues to maintain a distinct culture, independent art scene, and unique architectural heritage. Many Brooklyn neighborhoods are ethnic enclaves where particular ethnic groups and cultures predominate.
Parks and other attractions
- Prospect Park is a public park in central Brooklyn encompassing 585 acres (2.37 km2) (237 ha). The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who created Manhattan's Central Park. Attractions include the Long Meadow, a 90-acre (36 ha) meadow, the Picnic House, which houses offices and a hall that can accommodate parties with up to 175 guests; Litchfield Villa, the home of Edwin Clark Litchfield, an early developer of the neighborhood and a former owner of a southern section of the Park; Prospect Park Zoo; a large nature conservancy managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society; the Boathouse, housing a visitors center and the first urban Audubon Center; Brooklyn's only lake, covering 60 acres (24 ha); the Prospect Park Bandshell that hosts free outdoor concerts in the summertime; and various sports and fitness activities including seven baseball fields.
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden: located adjacent to Prospect Park is the 52-acre (21 ha) botanical garden, which includes a cherry tree esplanade, a one-acre (0.4 ha) rose garden, a Japanese hill and pond garden, a fragrance garden, a water lily pond esplanade, several conservatories, a rock garden, a native flora garden, a bonsai tree collection, and children's gardens and discovery exhibits.
- Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge: a unique Federal wildlife refuge straddling the Brooklyn-Queens border, part of Gateway National Recreation Area
- Floyd Bennett Field: the first municipal airport in New York City and long closed for operations, is now part of the National Park System. Many of the historic hangars and runways are still extant. A variety of nature trails and diverse habitats are found within the park, including salt marsh and a restored area of shortgrass prairie that was once widespread on the Hempstead Plains.
- Coney Island developed as a playground for the rich in the early 1900s, but it grew as one of America's first amusement grounds and attracted crowds from all over New York. The Cyclone rollercoaster, built in 1927, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The 1920 Wonder Wheel and other rides are still operational at Astroland. Coney Island went into decline in the 1970s, but is currently undergoing a renaissance: the new Luna Park opened in 2010. The annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade is a hipster costume-and-float parade which honored David Byrne, pre-punk music guru, as the head merman in 1998. Coney Island also hosts the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.
- New York Transit Museum displays historical artifacts of the New York subway, commuter rail and bus systems; it is located in the former IND Court Street subway station in Brooklyn Heights.
- Green-Wood Cemetery, founded by the social reformer Henry Evelyn Pierrepont in 1838, is both one of the most significant cemeteries in the United States and an expansive green space encompassing 478 acres (190 ha) of rolling hills and dales, several ponds, and a baroque chapel. Still in use, the cemetery is the burial ground of many notable New Yorkers, such as F.A.O. Schwarz (1836–1911), toy store founder; William M. "Boss" Tweed (1823–1878), notorious boss of the New York political machine; and actor Frank Morgan (1890–1949), best known for his portrayal of the title character in the film The Wizard of Oz.