Join us for a virtual visit to Bien Hecho, a woodworking business at the Brooklyn Navy Yard that specializes in making furniture, millwork, cabinetry, public street seats, and other custom woodwork from reclaimed and sustainably-sourced wood. We’ll hear the story behind John Randall’s decade-old business, and how he has salvaged and transformed scrap wood, from a Brooklyn water tower to the Coney Island boardwalk, into beautifully-designed pieces of furniture and functional sculptures. This program will also explore Bien Hecho Academy, where classes and workshops take place. We’ll show some of the machinery and tools in the woodworking shop with the Academy’s Director Angie Yang, and we’ll get some insider tips on woodworking you can do at home or that you can also put into practice by joining Bien Hecho Academy’s exciting classes.>> Continue reading
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, we are looking back at the remarkable careers of the ships where the war began and ended for the United State, both built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. USS Arizona was built in 1916, and 25 years later, it was destroyed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, killing 1,177 aboard and drawing the US into the war. In 1944, USS Missouri slid off the ways in Brooklyn, and it would become the site of the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay on Sep. 2, 1945. We will share stories of the ships’ construction and service, and our experiences visiting both, sitting side by side today, one afloat and one at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i.
- USS Arizona Memorial
- Battleship Missouri Memorial
- Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial
- From Perry To MacArthur: Flag Links Historic US Visits to Japan, in Peace and War
- Brooklyn Navy Yard Visitors Share Memories and Mementos
- Clayton Colefield and the Building of USS Missouri
- USS Arizona, Brooklyn’s Most Famous Battleship
Join us for a live virtual program with Grandchamps at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 77 Food Manufacturing Hub to learn about Haitian cuisine and the story behind this family-owned business. Guest Judh Grandchamps Jr. will share a behind-the-scenes look at the spices and flavors that influence their Haitian dishes. We’ll also hear the story behind how Grandchamps started as a restaurant, market, and community gathering space in Bed-Stuy, its expansion to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and how they’ve been weathering the pandemic.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, we are listening to the voices of men and women who lived through the war in Brooklyn. We will share a selection of the 100+ oral histories that make up the collection in the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archives to bring the city at war to life. Learn what it was like to be one of the first female shipworkers in 1942, or to face discrimination as a Black sailor in the segregated Navy, or to witness battered ships and sailors limp into the Yard from the war zone. Our team will also share our experiences recording oral histories with these remarkable people over the past 12 years.
To mark the 230th birthday of the United States Coast Guard, we’re looking back at the history of the “always ready” service. Due to New York’s position as one of the country’s largest ports, the Coast Guard has ensured its safety and security for more than two centuries, and today they have the largest presence of any military service branch in New York City. We will share stories of the Coast Guard fighting U-boats in both World Wars, hunting bootleggers during Prohibition, and ensuring the safe navigation of the harbor for everybody from container ships to kayakers. We will also be joined by Coast Guard veteran Ramon Ortiz, who served aboard the icebreaking tug USCGC Sturgeon Bay and in Coast Guard Sector New York.
- History of the Coast Guard
- Lilac Preservation Project
- PortSide New York Red Hook WaterStories
- National Lighthouse Museum
- Jack Dempsey and the Manhattan Beach Coast Guard Training Center
- Naval History, “The Coast Guard’s World War II Crucible”
Coffee has long been the lifeblood of the Brooklyn economy, once as a leading commodity coming into the port, and today supporting hundreds of small coffee shops and roasters. This virtual program will look at how one Brooklyn company came to dominate the importing and roasting of coffee in the 19th century, share stories of the small roasters that have survived in Brooklyn for generations, and look at the city’s every-changing coffee landscape.
- WATCH: Roasted, History of Coffee in NYC with Brooklyn Historical Society
- Naval History Magazine, “A Cup o’ Joe”
- Brooklyn Roasting Company
- Porto Rico Importing
- Gillies Coffee
- D’Amico Coffee
One of the most frequent questions from visitors on our Brooklyn Navy Yard Tours is, where are the ships of the US Navy built today? At its height in 1966, the US Navy operated 12 shipyards that built and repaired a huge proportion of the fleet; today, it operates only four, and all ship construction is done at private yards. This virtual program with Andrew Gustafson will discuss the decline of the government shipbuilding, the major private shipyards working today, and the current and future challenges to the naval shipbuilding program.
- Google Map of US shipyards
- Shipyards of New York Harbor
- RAND Corporation (2017) A Strategic Assessment of the Future of U.S. Navy Ship Maintenance
- US Naval Institute, “Fincantieri Wins $795M Contract for Navy Frigate Program”
- US Naval Institute, “Shipbuilding Industry Struggles to Recruit And Retain Workforce”
- War on the Rocks, “More than Just a Fire: The Implications of the Bonhomme Richard Catastrophe”
Join us for part two of our conversation with archivist Dennis Riley of the New York State Archive. Dennis will share his research into the treasure trove of materials related to Puerto Rico held at the National Archives at New York, focusing on the role of the US military on the island from the Spanish-American War onward.
- Hunter College Center for Puerto Rican Studies, “The Puerto Rican Experience in the U.S. Military: A Century of Unheralded Service”
- Harry Franqui-Rivera (2013), “National Mythologies: U.S. Citizenship for the People of Puerto Rico and Military Service”
- US Dept. of Defense, “Puerto Ricans Represented Throughout U.S. Military History“
- Smithsonian, “Three German Ships, Puerto Rico, and the Great War: the First Shots Fired by the U.S. in WWI”
- Andrew R. Martin (2017), Steelpan Ambassadors: The US Navy Steel Band, 1957–1999
Join the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program (BCAP) every weekday at 10am for Adventures in Brooklyn. Virtually visit many different cultural partners as we explore art, science, reading, and more across Brooklyn from home! From July 6 to 10, we will be hosting special programs all about the Brooklyn Navy Yard, including learning about ships and how they are built and repaired, looking at many of the products that are made in the Yard today, and exploring stories of people, ships, and even animals from the Yard’s long history.
This program is designed for children ages 5 to 10 and their families. Click the links below to watch the 30-minute episodes on YouTube:
- Monday: Boats of Wallabout Bay
- Tuesday: Fixing Boats in a Dry Dock
- Wednesday: Animal Stories of the Yard w/ Thyra Heder
- Thursday: Making Products at the Brooklyn Navy Yard w/ Carrie Bilbo
- Friday: Reusing and Recycling
When the Brooklyn Navy Yard was founded in 1801, more than a quarter of the inhabitants of Kings County were enslaved, and 60% of households included an enslaved person. This program will look at how the institution of slavery was intricately linked to the operations of the Yard, even after New York enacted emancipation in 1827. From timber, rope, and nails produced by enslaved labor in the South, to the enslaved people living and working at the Yard itself, the institution of slavery was embedded in the life of the Navy. This program will be hosted by our Brooklyn Navy Yard historian Andrew Gustafson.
- Slavery and the Brooklyn Navy Yard
- New York Slavery Records Index (John Jay College)
- McNally, William (1839). Evils and Abuses in the Naval and Merchant Service Exposed
- Hodges, Graham Russell (2005). Root & Branch: African Americans in New York and East Jersey, 1613-1863
- Wilder, Craig Steven (2000). A Covenant with Color: Race and Social Power in Brooklyn 1636-1990
- Peterson, Carla L. (2011). Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York
- Eltis, David and David Richardson (2015). Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
- Bolster, W. Jeffery (1997). Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail