Situated on the northern end of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, The Vale of Cashmere is an Alice-in-Wonderland kind of place: a row of benches facing a sunken fountain filled with reeds, moss and an empty wine bottle or two. A hundred years ago, the Vale was a formal garden populated by high society families. Over the years, it fell into disrepair. Will Akers, a playwright, discovered it accidentally one day while rambling through the park. Visiting the Vale is now a summertime ritual.
“There’s nowhere else in the park like this, because the renovations haven’t gotten here yet,” Akers explains. "Because so much of New York is torn down and rebuilt all the time, anything that survived, especially if it’s shown its age, is all the more precious. I want to hang on to these things for as long as I can because they go away.” Summer Sundays, he finds a bench and listens to the Mets baseball game on a transistor radio.
The Prospect Park Alliance is raising capital to restore the Vale to its original condition.
William Akers goes by W.M. Akers in print. His non-fiction writing and plays draw inspiration from the past. He's written about the rough-and-tumble days of the late 19th and 20th centuries for Narratively, a storytelling platform.
Clair de Lune by Debussy was performed by Rafał Blechacz and recorded live in the Greene Space by WQXR.