5. Von King Park is one of oldest parks in New York City

Von King Park in Bed-Stuy
Von King park entrance.

Von King Park, the seventh oldest in the city, was laid out in 1839 after the Village of Brooklyn was incorporated as a city. Originally called Tompkins Park — in honor of Daniel D. Tompkins, an abolitionist who served four terms as governor of New York and two terms as vice president under James Monroe — the park was constructed in 1870 and designed by Central Park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. The design was conceived as a residential space similar to Washington Square and Tompkins Square.

Little of the park’s original design is still present today. The center of the park was opened up in 1915 to accommodate crowds, and a library was built the same year. Remnants of the original park include the 19th-century brownstones surrounding the park and the Magnolia Grandiflora. The park today is named for Herbert Von King, nicknamed the “Mayor of Bedford-Stuyvesant” for his community leadership. He founded Boy Scout Troop 219 in 1933, and the private building contractor also served as a member of the local school board, Police Civilian Committee, and the Magnolia Earth Tree Center.