Wire rope helped build many New York City landmarks in the nineteenth century, most notably the Brooklyn Bridge, but it quickly became an essential tool in the maritime industry as well. Marine surveyor Charlie Deroko returns to our virtual programs with an engineer’s perspective on the history of wire rope and a mechanics’ view of its use on historic tall ships, specifically the Peking, which spent 40 years in the South Street Seaport Museum’s collection.>> Continue reading
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, the US Navy established six naval shipyards to build, repair, and outfit the fleet. From the “original six”—Boston, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Washington—the public shipyard system would expand over the next 150 years, peaking at 11 in 1943. Today, only four Naval Shipyards still exist, but as the other sites have been decommissioned over the past five decades, they have been repurposed as industrial parks, residential neighborhoods, container ports, and more. This virtual program will examine the history of these yards’ closure, the challenges and successes of their repurposing, and the future of the country’s active public shipyards.>> Continue reading
In colonial New York, reliable power came from muscles (human and animal), firewood, and tides. From Spuyten Duyvil to Marine Park, Wallabout Bay to Flushing Bay, settlers turned many tidal marshes across New York’s vast estuary into millponds to run machinery as the water ebbed. In this virtual program, Brad Vogel of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club and the Tide Mill Institute will share examples of this green energy from the past.
- Sergey Kadinsky’s Hidden Waters Blog
- Verdant Power
- Pliant Energy Systems
- PortSide NY’s Red Hook WaterStories
- Marine Park Alliance
- New York Preservation Archive Project
Concrete may seem like an odd material for shipbuilding, but during World War I, severe shortages of steel led to this innovation. Devised by Norwegian immigrants the Fougner brothers, they built one of the first such ships in the US at their shipyard in Flushing, Queens. The technology reached its apex during World War II, when the US built over 100 ships and barges, and they were used as freighters, tankers, and even floating ice cream factories. Large-scale concrete shipbuilding is a thing of the past, but we will examine the fates of these wartime ships, and discuss many examples of concrete boatbuilding today.
- Concrete Ships
- Nicolay Fougner (1922) Seagoing and Other Concrete Ships
- John Vasta (1952) The Concrete Ship Program of World War II
- “How Poured Ships are Built” (Popular Science)
- “How the Navy’s ban on booze birthed a million-dollar floating ice cream parlor” (Task & Purpose)
The fastest way to the beach is on the NYC Ferry, so join us for another virtual boat tour as we cruise the Lower New York Bay. We will pick up the ferry in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, then make our way under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, past Coney Island, and down to the Rockaways. Along the way, we will discuss the forts and islands that used to protect the harbor, the history of recreation along the city’s Atlantic seaboard, and the rich aquatic life of Jamaica Bay and the New York Bight. At the end of the tour, we’ll take a walk across the Rockaway Peninsula and virtually stroll along the beach.
- New York Seascape map
- Coney Island History Project
- “A Subway to Staten Island?” (New York Times)
- “The 1858 Quarantine Fires in Staten Island” (NYPL)
- “Cherishing Life’s Ferris Wheel Ride” (New York Times)
- “Wonder Wheel Park Matriarch Dies, But Dream Will Keep Spinning” (NY1)
- “The Golden Venture: 25 Years Later” (Rockaway Times)
Join artist Tatiana Arocha for a virtual visit and artmaking workshop live from her studio at the Brooklyn Navy Yard! We will see how she incorporates plants, seeds, and other natural materials into her mural making process, while drawing inspiration from plants and animals in the rainforest in her native country of Colombia. Recommended materials to have ready for the program include paper, crayons or pencils, dirt in a cup, a leaf, seeds, and some small rocks.
Take a behind-the-scenes virtual tour of Russ & Daughters’ Appetizing Factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard! We’ll hear the story of how this iconic New York business was started over a hundred years ago by a pushcart peddler on the streets of the Lower East Side and step inside their bakery to see how they make bagels, babka, black and white cookies, and other appetizing delicacies!
Behind the gates of the Brooklyn Navy Yard lies a network of streets that are a mystery to most New Yorkers. Named for naval heroes, shipyard operations, and even a numbered grid, these streets trace the Yard’s history from the War of 1812 through World War II. While new attention has been given to how and whom we memorialize in our public places and streets, we will unpack the stories of the people behind these street names as we virtually walk through the history of the Yard.
- Slavery and the Brooklyn Navy Yard (Turnstile Blog)
- What was the First Ship Built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard? (Turnstile Blog)
- Brooklyn Navy Yard map, 1963 (BNY Archives)
- Slaveholder Lewis Warrington’s Petition to the Secretary of the Navy, 1839 (John G. Sharp)
- John Bartelstone, The Brooklyn Navy Yard
- The Shores of Tripoli (Fort Circle Games)
- Slavers of New York
New York Harbor is bustling with boats every day, making it perfect for ship spotting, a hobby that involves seeing, learning about, and tracking ships as they come and go. The Brooklyn Navy Yard is a great place to see all kinds of ships, including ferries, fireboats, tugboats, and even oyster tenders! During this program, our expert ship spotting guide will share some tips and tools to help us learn more about the boats we see in the harbor. We’ll also visit with a NYC Ferry captain who will show us around the wheelhouse and the controls they use to operate the boat each day.
How did people print newspapers and books before the age of computers? Join this virtual program to learn about the history of printing technology with Woodside Press at the Brooklyn Navy Yard! We’ll virtually visit their workshop, which is like stepping back in time, and see how they use tools and machinery that are over a hundred years old that still work great today. We will share tips for how children and families can do their own printmaking at home using paper, paint, potatoes, cauliflower, and other objects.