USS Arizona, Brooklyn’s Most Famous Battleship

Today marks the anniversary of the launching of USS Arizona at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We have written about the Arizona many times before, including about the impact the sinking had on the Yard’s workers half a world away, and about our visit to the memorial in Pearl Harbor. It remains one of the most well-known and written about ships in the history of the US Navy, but we want to take a look at some lesser-known incidents in its storied history connected to the Yard.

When looking back at the ship’s history from the perspective of its tragic end, one can’t help but find many omens; when taken together, they seem to have foretold its fate. They are, of course, coincidences, not curses, but fascinating nonetheless.>> Continue reading

The Pickabacks, Unsung Heroes of D-Day

Operation Neptune, the seaborne component of the Normandy invasion, required nearly 6,500 vessels to deliver the vast Allied armies and their supplies and equipment onto the continental beaches. This didn’t just include warships and landing craft, but also more mundane vessels, like barges.

Allied planners scoured the British Isles for craft of any kind to use in the invasion, and they encountered a major shortage of large barges, capable of carrying 1,000 tons or more, and with a draft of less than six feet. Enough simply could not be found or built. Barges of this size were too large to load onto the decks of even the largest transports, and too fragile to tow across the stormy North Atlantic. So in February 1944, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower sent an urgent message to Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall asking for a solution.>> Continue reading

Brooklyn Navy Yard: When Brooklyn Was Queer Tour, June 22

Black and white photo of two men turned away from the camera with linked arms with pink text overlay that reads, "When Brooklyn was Queer"

Queer history is linked to Brooklyn’s diversity, creativity, and vibrancy as a borough, yet this history is often forgotten or overlooked. Join us for this special tour about the queer history of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, co-led by Turnstile Tours and scholar, curator, and author Hugh Ryan, as we discuss his groundbreaking book When Brooklyn was Queer.

This in-depth tour of the Yard’s history will include insights and excerpts from Ryan on queer histories at and around the Yard, from the nineteenth century and through World War II. The experience culminates at the Kings County Distillery’s Sands Street Gatehouses, a street once known for its bars and nightlife that provided rare spaces for expression of queer identities.  Hugh Ryan’s meticulous research and engaging storytelling have gained his book much praise, and we are so excited to partner with him on this experience as part of WorldPride2019. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

When Brooklyn Was Queer Tour

icon-calendar  SAT, Jun 22, 4:30pm
  2 hours
  Bus and walking tour
  BLDG 92, Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Joining the Fleet Week Parade of Ships

Since Fleet Week returned to New York City after a sequestration-imposed hiatus in 2013, I have watched the annual parade of ships from underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which gives you a good vantage point on the Navy and Coast Guard vessels as they pass through the channel into the Upper Bay. This year, however, I got the opportunity to actually be in the parade thanks to the New York Council of the Navy League.>> Continue reading

The Telegraph: The 20 Greatest Ways to See New York

The Telegraph newspaper logo

The Telegraph, May 22, 2019

by Jane Mulkerrins

Turnstile Tours has built a reputation for offering quirky tours, from historic sites such as Brooklyn’s Army Terminal to street markets, and donates at least 5 per cent of all ticket sales to neighbourhood projects. New for this year are two-hour walking tours of Prospect Park – Central Park’s more compact sister in Brooklyn – exploring the meadows and woodlands, art and architecture and waterways. There’s also a tour of the Gowanus waffle production space for the trendy Wafels & Dinges chain. As well as meeting the chefs and learning how the business works, visitors get to make (and eat) their own waffles.

>> Read more

 

Mothballed Cargo Ships Visit Brooklyn Navy Yard

Wallabout Bay is currently hosting a pair of ships that harken back to the days of the New York Naval Shipyard, as a pair of mothballed ships from the James River National Defense Reserve Fleet are visiting, Cape Ann and Cape Avinof.

Created after World War II, when the US had a massive surplus of merchant ships, the NDRF was a way to keep those ships in reserve if another national emergency should arise. Managed by the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and once containing thousands of ships at eight anchorages around the country – including the Hudson River Reserve Fleet in nearby Tarrytown, NY – today the NDRF has only about 50 ships in Beaumont, TX, Suisun Bay, CA, and in the James River near Newport News, VA. While these ships are in various states of repair, requiring weeks or even months of work to be put back into action, MARAD also maintains the Ready Reserve Force, 45 vessels strategically positioned around the country with minimal crews that can be reactivated in just four to 20 days.>> Continue reading

New York City’s Public Markets, Past and Present

This weekend marks the end of an era, as the Essex Street Market will be moving from the building it has occupied since 1940 into a new facility across Delancey St in the Essex Crossing development. The new Essex Market will have nearly all the same vendors as the old market, plus 15 additions, in a larger space that will be more convenient for shoppers and vendors.

The old market building had its own charms, and it represented an important period in New York City’s history, when Mayor Fiorello La Guardia fought to keep food affordable for New Yorkers and to provide indoor space for the city’s growing population of street vendors in the midst of the Great Depression. As we say goodbye to the old market, we are looking back at the history of the city’s public markets, and what happened to the rest of them. >> Continue reading

Jane’s Walk Around the Brooklyn Navy Yard, May 4

landscape with wood board and grass

We are hosting a special experience for Jane’s Walks around the perimeter of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. For 165 years, the Yard was a leading naval shipyard, and today it is a city-owned industrial park and a center of manufacturing, technology, and craft, home to over 400 industrial and creative businesses, providing 9,000 jobs for New Yorkers. This walk will trace the Yard’s perimeter, starting at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92, and ending at the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative’s Naval Cemetery Landscape for a celebration of the park’s opening day. Along the way, we will discuss current development and adaptive reuse projects that are boosting the Yard’s workforce to levels not seen since the shipyard’s closure in 1966, and examine what remains of the rich historic landscape of the Yard.

Brooklyn Navy Yard Jane’s Walk

icon-calendar  SAT, May 4, 10am
  1 hour
  Walking tour (approx. 1 mile)
  BLDG 92, Fort Greene, Brooklyn