On National Submarine Day, dive into the undersea history of the Brooklyn Navy Yard! Although no submarines were ever built at the Yard, from the Civil War to the Cold War, it was a critical facility for the development, testing, and outfitting of the US Navy’s submarine fleet, from primitive hand-cranked submersibles to nuclear-powered ballistic missile subs. This program will explore the evolution of submarine technology and critical breakthroughs that were made at the Yard, including the development of diesel engines from captured German U-boats, experimental torpedoes and underwater munitions, and the world’s first satellite-based navigation system.
This interactive virtual tour will stream live to the factory floor of IceStone in the Brooklyn Navy Yard! We’ll meet IceStone’s Marketing Director Ashon McCollin and he will show us how people, machines, and processes come together at their factory to transform 100% recycled glass into countertops. This program will be hosted by Turnstile Tours in partnership with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at Building 92, IceStone, and the Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program.
Explore the neighborhoods surrounding the Brooklyn Navy Yard, including Vinegar Hill, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Williamsburg, on this walk around the Yard’s long perimeter. We will explore connections between the Yard and the surrounding communities, including a peek at the landmark Commandant’s House, the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument in Fort Greene Park, and other buildings that provided housing for Yard workers and produced components for the shipyard. We will also explore some of the public areas of the Yard, including Building 77, the Admirals Row site, and the Naval Cemetery Landscape. Follow along with our map guide created for Open House New York Weekend 2020.
As both an historic site and an active industrial park, with buildings and infrastructure spanning nearly 200 years, the Brooklyn Navy Yard is literally made up of layers of history. The Brooklyn Navy Yard Archives serves the dual function of documenting and preserving the Yard’s history, while also providing historical engineering and architectural documentation that is critical for restoration and development projects. In this virtual visit to the Archives, we will be joined by archivist Elizabeth McGorty, who will tell us about the role of the Archives, show us some of the highlights of the collection and what they tell us about the Yard’s history, and take us behind the scenes to their storage facility where they keep some of the more unique artifacts of the collection.
On March 17, 1863, the gunboat Shamrock was launched from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, an event attended by more than 5,000 onlookers and tremendous fanfare. The christening of this ship was meant to recognize the contributions of Irish troops to the Union cause, but it also represented a watershed moment during the ascendancy of the Irish in the city’s waterfront trades. This program will examine the growth of Irish communities along the waterfront before and after the Civil War, look at the centers of civic life, including churches, pubs, and political clubs, some of which persist to this day, and learn about groundbreaking Irish admirals, engineers, and entrepreneurs that helped shape the city’s waterfront.
Food manufacturing has been a cornerstone of Brooklyn’s manufacturing economy for 150 years. Not only was the borough was home to some of the largest chocolate and confectionary makers in the country, but its port brought the tropical ingredients from around the globe. We will discuss some of the large and small chocolate makers that dotted Brooklyn’s landscape, the men and women who worked in them, and the transformations brought to the industry by mechanization, unionization, and war. We will also look at some of the artisanal chocolate makers that are keeping the confectionary traditions alive today.
The celebrate Black History Month and the 220th birthday at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we are looking at the obstacles and opportunities that Black people encountered at the Brooklyn Navy Yard from the end of the Civil War through the Yard’s closure a century later. The program will examine the long history of African-Americans in the maritime trades, their systematic exclusion from the uniformed ranks of the US Navy in the Jim Crow era, and the new opportunities that emerged during World War II. We will look at profiles of trailblazers, innovators, and activists who worked and served there, and how the Yard became an important to Black economic and cultural life in Brooklyn. This virtual program follows up where we left off with last year’s “An Unfree Fleet,” which looked at the Yard’s connections to the institution of slavery.
February 23 marks 220 years since the founding of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but 2021 also marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, the non-profit organization that manages the city-owned industrial park. In this birthday celebration, we will look back at the decades-long transformation of the Yard from a military shipbuilding installation into a dynamic and diverse hub of manufacturing, technology, design, and opportunity that hosts more than 500 businesses and 11,000 good-paying jobs. We will be joined by staff from BNYDC, who will share new projects and initiatives, insights on the growth of the Yard in recent years, and how the businesses have navigated the pandemic.
The Brooklyn waterfront is blessed with many cultural institutions, but three of the most unique are led by three dynamic cultural entrepreneurs. The Brooklyn waterfront is richer because of Andrew Gustafson, Carolina Salguero, and David Sharps, who lead Turnstile Tours, PortSide NewYork, and the Waterfront Museum, respectively. Join the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center for a virtual Breakfast Talk with these entrepreneurs as they speak about how they have been navigating their institutions through the pandemic. After each explains their unique mission, they will tell us what they did to carry on during COVID, how they did it, and which of the changes they have made will be carried into post-pandemic Brooklyn.
As the country transitions from one presidential administration to another, the Brooklyn Navy Yard is an instructive historical example, as it was founded amidst the rancorous transition from President John Adams to Thomas Jefferson. Over the next 150 years, more than a dozen sitting US presidents would visit the Yard, and on this Presidents Day virtual program, we will examine many of these presidential visits and their historical and political context. From ship launches to campaign speeches to memorial services, presidents have used the Yard as a backdrop for a variety of official duties. And since the establishment of the Navy Department in 1798, the Navy Yards were some of the largest employers of civilians in the federal government, making them important symbols of federal power, and centers of political patronage.