Support Turnstile Turtles in Gowanus Canal Race June 15

Turnstile Tours is truly multimodal – with tours by foot, bus, and bicycle, we’re now hopping into canoes!  On Saturday, June 15, our team will take to the murky, sheen-cloaked waters of Brooklyn’s beloved canal for the Gowanus Challenge canoe race.  The event is put on by the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club to raise money for their public education and paddling programs. You can help support the Dredgers by sponsoring our team, the Turnstile Turtles.  We’re aiming to raise $500 for the club, and any support you can provide would be greatly appreciated.  To make a contribution, visit the donation page, and make sure to write “Turnstile Turtles” in the “Designation” section.  Your donation will help the Dredgers continue to offer their education programs to local students, and to make their flotilla of canoes free for public use (see their schedule – free paddling times are usually Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons).>> Continue reading

Red Hook Crit Takes Over Brooklyn Navy Yard June 8

The Red Hook Criterium, the professional racing series of growing fame, is coming to the Brooklyn Navy Yard Saturday, June 8, for a night of competition under the lights and cranes of the yard.

Spectators are welcome into the yard for this event, which will feature a 5k run and qualifying races, as well as the main event, when 200 fixed-gear bicycle racers will take on 26 laps of a 1.25-kilometer course that zips through the heart of the yard.  Qualifying races will begin at 6pm, and the rain race will begin at 9:45pm (see the full event schedule – on race day, racers will enter through Building 92, located on Flushing Ave at the corner of Carlton Ave, while spectators will enter the yard through the Clinton Ave gate, also located on Flushing Ave).>> Continue reading

Arrested Development: Parable of Street Vending

Arrested Development is back.  We’ve waited for this day for seven years, and as we look back on the show’s three incredible seasons in anticipation of the fourth, I’ve come to one conclusion: at its heart, this is a show about street vending.  As the show follows the long, meandering downfall of the Bluth family, I would argue that their bad behavior as street vendors was their true tragic flaw.

It ain’t easy being a street vendor, but had the Bluths just followed a few simple rules of vending (which they could have picked up on our Food Cart Tours), they could have avoided their fate – but then, of course, we would have been deprived of 68 miraculous episodes of television.>> Continue reading

NYC Fleet Week Canceled, but USS Franklin Not Forgotten

The Brooklyn Navy Yard has been a place of refuge for much of its history.  During its 165-year run as a naval shipyard, it did not just send ships down the ways and off to war; it took in ships in the most desperate, hopeless shape, and put them back into fighting order.  During World War II, more than 5,000 vessels were steamed, limped, towed, and dragged into the safe waters of Wallabout Bay to be tended to by the 72,000 men and women of the yard.

Of all the wounded ships to steam up the East River, none were more so than the aircraft carrier USS Franklin.>> Continue reading

Meet Our Team: Sustainability Guide Doug Chapman

Over the next several weeks, we will be posting brief interviews with all of our great team members at Turnstile Tours. From historians to actors, special education professionals to artists, our team possesses a wide range of experience and expertise that help to make our tours well-crafted, engaging, and accessible to any audience.

Meet Doug Chapman, head of Sustainability Programming and leader of our Sustainability Tours of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Where are you from originally, Doug?

I grew up in Toronto, Canada and went to high school in Interlochen, MI.>> Continue reading

NYC Museum Educators Roundtable: Oral History in a Public Context

Presentation at the New York City Museum Educators Roundtable Annual Conference, May 2013

“Oral History in a Public Context: Fostering Human Connections with Broader Public Meanings”

This conference session, organized by Cindy VandenBosch, included case study presentations and facilitated small group discussions to examine how oral history can be used effectively in a variety of museum-based projects, from apps to place-making activities, walking tours to educational programs, as a means of fostering personal connections with the past, and with broader public meanings.>> Continue reading

Spring Photography Tour Offers New Perspective on Brooklyn Navy Yard

The photos we’ve collected from our Spring Photography Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard reflect the huge variety of material in the yard.  Over thirty photographers packed the bus on the morning of Saturday, April 20, and for two hours we buzzed about the industrial waterfront.  An overcast day provided good, diffused light for the group, and their individual visions shined into the nooks and crannies of the yard.  Throughout the following week, over fifty submissions to our Instagram photo contest trickled in.  The tough task of choosing three favorites fell to Navy Yard-based artist Thomas Witte – but before we announce the winners, we want to thank all of the tour participants for exploring the yard with us, and all of the photographers who submitted their wonderful photos.  Here are Thomas’ selections:>> Continue reading

LA Stories: More Than Just Food Trucks

Cindy and Andrew recently traveled to Los Angeles for a much-needed vacation.  But of course, they could not resist exploring the waterfronts, markets, and street food of Southern California.  Over the coming weeks, they will be sharing some of their experiences.

Confession: we travelled all the way to Los Angeles, and we did not eat from a single food truck.  Now, given our chosen profession, that may seem an unforgivable sin, but during our seven days in Southern California, we did find our way to many street vendors, markets, and incredible immigrant-owned restaurants across the Los Angeles area.  We are admitted neophytes to the sprawling Los Angeles food scene, but thanks to the advice of more seasoned friends, we had nary a regrettable meal on our trip.>> Continue reading

Atlas Obscura: Realm of Wounded Soldiers: Abandoned Brooklyn Naval Hospital

Atlas Obscura, May 2, 2013

by Allison Meyer

Since it was decommissioned in 1966, the Brooklyn Navy Yard has morphed into a thriving center for independent industry and creative businesses, with many of its old military complexes and ship-building facilities being transformed into offices and studios. However, there are still areas of this massive area that once was a hub of naval ship construction that remain abandoned, and there it’s easiest to descend quickly into the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s history.

I recently visited the Navy Yard with Turnstile Tours, which offers a variety of tours at the Navy Yard, including one on World War II and one for photographers. Our final stop after an extensive exploration through the former military center’s history was one of those still-abandoned places: the Naval Hospital.

>> Read More

Brooklyn Navy Yard Spring Photography Tour Submissions

We recently held our second installment of our Photography Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and to all those who participated in the photo contest, we salute you!  Not only were the submissions diverse and vibrant, but we had over 50 entries!  Three winning photos will be chosen next week by Yard-based artist Thomas Witte.  In next week’s blog post we’ll highlight the winners, but for now I want to share some insight and excellent news about our celebrity judge.

Upon speaking with Thomas last week, I learned a few things about the role that photography plays in his work (which I began to discuss in my previous post).  Thomas’s grandfather was a surgeon who caught the photography bug.  Back in the days before digital, his grandfather would shoot and develop hundreds of slides, and they have become the basis for much of Thomas’ art.  Just recently, while preparing for an upcoming Arts for Transit installation, he trekked into Grand Central Terminal with his dad, who also happens do be a photographer.  With the younger Witte directing the elder, the tripod was strategically placed, photos clicked, and the scenes were cemented in time.  These purpose-shot images will become part of a four-artist installation utilizing 16 large light boxes in Grand Central’s lower dining area.  Thomas will use the images as the material for large, dark stencils that will silhouette against the backlit boxes (see more of his stencil work here).  The stenciling will demand surgeon-like precision (it must run in the family!), and the results should be stunning.>> Continue reading