Happy Leif Erikson Day! Two Voyages Tell The Story of America

Woman in a blue jacket standing underneath a bronze abstract sculpture with a meadow and ocean in the distance.

We couldn’t let Leif Erikson Day pass without boasting that we stood in his bedroom. And not in Norway or Iceland or Greenland, but right here in North America, at L’Anse aux Meadows, a National Historic Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site on the northern tip of Newfoundland. But to understand what this place is, and what it has to do with October 9, we actually need to walk back through three separate journeys.

First, how did we wind up there? Last month, Cindy and I spent eight days in Newfoundland for our (five-year-delayed) honeymoon. We traveled up the island’s west coast from Gros Morne National Park (also a UNESCO site) to Quirpon Island in the extreme north, and L’Anse aux Meadows was a stop along the way.>> Continue reading

Cass Gilbert’s New York: Explore the Woolworth Building & Brooklyn Army Terminal

Mosaic in Woolworth Lobby showing figure of Commerce holding a globe

Join us for this special exploration of two of renowned architect Cass Gilbert’s most impressive works: the Woolworth Building and the Brooklyn Army Terminal. This 3-hour guided experience includes a tour led by the experts at Woolworth Tours of the building’s stunning lobby, with its soaring mosaic ceiling, intricate stained glass, and amusing corbel characters. We will then walk through the heart of the Financial District to Pier 11 to board the NYC Ferry to the Brooklyn Army Terminal to explore a building radically different in appearance, design, and function.  This engineering marvel on Brooklyn’s Sunset Park waterfront was built in 1918-1919, serving as a supply base for the American military for nearly 50 years. Today it is home to over 100 companies in industries ranging from precision manufacturers to biotech researchers, online retailers to chocolatiers. 

Public Tours

icon-calendar  Select SAT, 1:15pm
  3 hours
icon-male  icon-anchor  Walking & Ferry
  Woolworth Building, Lower Manhattan

Taste the Yard: Brooklyn Navy Yard Food Tour, August 16

Close-up photo of microgreens growing in a tray in a greenhouse

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Yard is a growing community of food manufacturing businesses. On this tour, go behind the scenes at some of the Yard’s most delicious tenants! Participants will learn about different aspects of food production, distribution, and retail, while sampling treats along the way. In addition, guests will gain a better understanding about the history of theYard and learn more about the 450+ businesses that call the Yard home today. As a bonus, the tour gives visitors amazing views and access to the Yard that is only possible on a tour. Perfect for a Summer Friday outing with colleagues or friends, this new tour is not to be missed!

Taste the Yard Tour

icon-calendar  FRI, Aug 16, 1pm
  2 hours
icon-male Walking tour
  BLDG 92, Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Saving the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Timber Shed

Photo showing the Timber Shed in the forground with Admirals Row to the right and the Brooklyn Navy Yard behind.

For the first time in 175 years, the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Timber Shed has emerged from behind a wall, and it is being prepared for a new life. One of the oldest buildings at the Yard, it is one of the few few surviving structures that represents the Yard’s early history of wooden shipbuilding. 

Actually, the Timber Shed represents the whole purpose and justification for creating the Navy Yard in the first place. When Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddert purchased 40 acres of land in Brooklyn 1801, he used appropriations for the purchase of timber, claiming that the Navy needed secure places to store it; otherwise, he was just wasting money moving the government-owned timber to the private shipyards that were building the ships. With this creative interpretation of the law, he created six shipyards that would be at the core of the US Navy for the next 160 years. In those other five Navy Yards (Portsmouth, Boston, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Washington), none still have an extant timber shed.>> Continue reading

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

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