New York Daily News: Brooklyn Army Terminal opening up for tours of the 95-year-old Sunset Park military depot

New York Daily News, September 14, 2013

by Matt Chaban

What do Elvis, Prohibition-era bootleggers and dinosaur bones all have in common? They’ve all spent their fair share of time at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park.

And now you can, too.

For the first time, the city is offering regular tours of the 95-year-old former military depot on the waterfront in Sunset Park.

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Thirty Years After Famed Show, Art Carries On At Brooklyn Army Terminal

It was supposed to rival the Armory Show, billed as “potentially the most controversial and innovative exhibition” since that groundbreaking moment in 1913.  Thirty years ago this month, “Terminal New York” opened, and 400 artists filled the abandoned space of the Brooklyn Army Terminal with a vast and riotous display of art that could hardly be contained even by the terminal’s cavernous spaces.

The show was originally conceived by Carol Waag, an artist and graphic designer for the New York City Public Development Corporation (which has since evolved into the New York City Economic Development Corporation, who now manages the site).  Built in 1918-19 as an army supply base, the military decommissioned it in 1966, and it had sat idle since 1975, when the few remaining federal government tenants left.  The City of New York bought the property in 1981, but two years later, it still lay empty and unused.  Once Waag floated the idea of the show, the PDC quickly agreed, considering it a perfect way to showcase a space they hoped to renovate and redevelop as new industrial space.>> Continue reading

Brooklyn News 12: Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park looks to increase visitors by offering private tours

News 12 Brooklyn, September 19, 2013

Private tours are now being offered at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. The 95-year-old structure in Sunset Park used to be the largest reinforced concrete building in the world. Today, many people do not even know it exists. This spurred tour guide Andrew Gustafson’s mission to raise awareness by offering tours.

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Brooklyn “B-Corps” Offer New Models for Business Success

Today, many of the products we buy are slapped with a dizzying array of certification labels.  You’ve probably seen the USDA certification attached to organic food products, or the Fair Trade label on coffee.  Sustainably-harvested wood has the Forest Stewardship Council’s FSC certification system, and Cradle to Cradle certification covers everything from  raw materials and industrial products to consumer goods and personal care products.  And if you’ve been on a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, you know about the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) rating system and seen beautiful examples of LEED buildings in the Yard, including Building 92, the Perry Building, and even the NYPD Brooklyn tow pound, among others.  Many industries across the world are waking up to the need for stronger ecological and social standards, and third-party certification programs help consumers to navigate the claims of the product, building, or manufacturer in question.>> Continue reading

Labor Day Weekend: New Tours of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn Army Terminal

Credit: Rich Garr

This weekend, explore the Brooklyn waterfront with Turnstile Tours!  From sidewalk botany to intermodal transportation to the Battle of Guadalcanal, our tours of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal will explore historic sites and and innovative industries.

Saturday kicks off with our World War II Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  Based around the oral histories of workers and sailors, this tour brings to life what the yard was like when 72,000 people came to work there everyday, building and repairing ships around the clock.  Want a broader perspective on the yard?  Our Overview Tour takes you from the battles of the Revolutionary War though to the 300+ companies that call this innovative industrial park home today – join us for this experience on Saturday or Sunday.  Then at 3pm, join us for our inaugural tour of the Brooklyn Army Terminal.  Once the largest warehouse in the world, this World War I-era architectural masterwork dispatched American forces and supplies across the world for nearly 50 years.  This walking tour will explore the inner workings of the ship and rail facility, as well as how it has been transformed into a home for dozens of businesses today.>> Continue reading

Brooklyn Army Terminal: Fortress of Prohibition

On May 15, 1918, ground was broken for the Brooklyn Army Terminal, a colossal warehouse and transportation hub designed to deliver American troops and supplies to the fields of Flanders.  World War I would end before the complex was completed, but it would soon find a different use, fighting a different foe: alcohol.

Prohibition came into effect on January 17, 1920, and the war was an important catalyst for it.  Prohibitionists had been condemning alcohol for decades, but the war gave them the perfect instrument to marshal political support for their cause.  They portrayed alcohol as a vice that sapped American strength and wasted American food, and they associated it with America’s mortal foreign enemies.  The country’s beer industry was dominated by first- and second-generation German immigrants, all of whom were now suspect.  New “dry” laws came into being as soon as America entered the war in April 1917.  That same month, New York City enacted a 1 a.m. closing time (unthinkable today), and by December, Congress had enacted the 18th Amendment.  So-called Wartime Prohibition (it did not take effect until long after the war ended, in May 1919) prevented food crops from being used to make alcohol (for more on World War I, Prohibition, and its impacts on the German-American community, read my blog series).>> Continue reading

Merchant Marines, Unsung Heroes of World War II

Tour group standing in front of the gates of the Commandant's House with WWII veteran Paul Mager standing on the right.

While developing our new tour about the World War II history of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we encountered a fascinating – and largely untold – history of the oft-forgotten service branch, the Merchant Marines. While the wartime exploits of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Army Air Corps are often celebrated, merchant seamen have received short shrift, both in the history books and in real life.

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