A folly, in the architectural sense, is a structure built as decoration to advertise the owner’s extravagance. A castle, say, to spruce up the grounds, or even, for the historically-bent, a “ruined” castle. For months now, the lawn between the Vale of Cashmere and Nellie’s Lawn, with its lovely fruit trees and native plantings, has been fenced off for the construction of a contemporary folly. (The fencing was recycled from the Ooga-Mugga, which was apropos.)
But wait, Prospect Park isn’t some plutocrat’s estate. Or, um, is it?
The plutocrat in question wanted a playground made of recycled, Sandy-toppled trees, and by gosh, he got it. Never mind the seven other playgrounds in the park, he wanted a “natural play area” with — oh, the modesty — his name on it. He has, after all, many more dollars to doll out (lessening his tax burden; this is another way our philanthropic systems costs the rest of us even more and undermines democracy) to those who beg from him like good dogs, so his whims must be hastened to. Never mind the things the park really needs. Please, sir, may we have some more? The lengthy construction process has necessitated ripping out plantings — formerly there on the left of the image — paid for by the peasants in hopes of making a particularly fine bird area even more so. An emphatic “fuck you, peasants,” from the gov’nuh and those who jump when he signs the check.
The Vale originally was a playground in Olmsted’s & Vaux’s plan. It seems to have been too isolated to be a success, though. Nellie’s Lawn, meanwhile, was named after a lass who supposedly pined away there for her lover, a pre-monetary or folk form of “naming rights.” And now betwixt Vale and Lawn rises a plutocrat’s folly, emblazoned with his name so that we may shower hosannahs upon him for his generosity. PPTHHPTHPFFTHPPPT!