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.
December 7, 1941 is a date that is indelible in American history, but 24 years earlier, that date also marked an important moment: the arrival of Battle Division 9 to Scapa Flow, the first American battleships to join the British Grand Fleet, which included the Brooklyn Navy Yard-built USS New York and USS Florida. We will discuss the special role of the US Navy in the naval war, in which battleships actually played a very small part. Places like the Brooklyn Navy Yard were instead tasked with building submarine chasers and painting “dazzle” camouflage schemes to counter German U-boats, and American manufacturing was mobilized to produce more than 50,000 mines for the North Sea Mine Barrage to close off passage to the Atlantic from Germany.
More than 2,800 Brooklynites were killed in World War I, and Prospect Park quickly became one of the borough’s key points of remembrance and commemoration. On this virtual walking tour for Veterans Day, we will explore some of the memorial sites in the park and they people they memorialize, including the memorial trees along Prospect Park West, Bartel-Pritchard Square, and the striking 1921 memorial by Henry Augustus Lukeman. We will also discuss the ways in which the park was mobilized and transformed as a result of the war.
As Open House New York Weekend goes online this year, we are hosting a virtual visit to one of the most popular sites of the weekend, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, so join us for a live exploration of the site’s architecture, history, and industry. Designed by architect Cass Gilbert and built in 1918–1919, the Terminal is an architectural and engineering marvel that served as a major military installation for nearly 50 years. Today it is a city-owned industrial park that is home to over 100 businesses, and we will visit with some of the makers, manufacturers, and artists that occupy the buildings today, including FABSCRAP, SPark Workshop Brooklyn, and Uncommon Goods. This program is supported by the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
Papercraft modeling and dolls are as old as paper, but the art form exploded in the 19th century with new innovations in printing technology, and tiny French city of Épinal became one of the global centers of printmaking. During the pandemic, papercraft modeling has been a welcome respite, and we have found countless Épinal prints available online and through Épinal’s Musée de L’Image. In this virtual program, we will examine (and assemble) some of our favorite models, including landmarks of French architecture, notable ships, and scenes from World War I. To provide historical context, we will be joined by Dr. Raisa Rexer, Assistant Professor of French at Vanderbilt University and an expert on 19th century French art and photography.
To mark Memorial Day weekend, this virtual program will examine the connections between the residents of Green-Wood Cemetery and the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Following both World Wars, the Terminal was a principal destination for the repatriation of servicemen killed overseas, many of whom were buried in nearby Green-Wood. We will also look at the monuments of many people who built, worked, and served at the Army Terminal, as well as other important figures in the development of Brooklyn’s military and industrial waterfront over the past century.
Before the celebrated images of “Rosie the Riveter” and “Winnie the Welder,” women served in a variety of roles at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in uniform and as civilian workers. We will celebrate Mother’s Day by looking back at the flag makers, telephone operators, nurses, and more that made the Navy Yard run, and paved the way for the thousands of welders, shipfitters, and machinists that worked in the Yard in World War II, and the women serving in all ranks and branches of the armed forces today.
Dive into the collections of South Street Seaport Museum with Director of Collections Martina Caruso, who will share some of the highlights among the museum’s 28,000+ artifacts and 55,000+ archival materials that document the rise of New York as a port city. In honor of the recent visit of the hospital ship USNS Comfort, we will look at items related to past hospital ships that have visited New York, and we will examine some fascinating shipbuilding tools, including those used by workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and other nearby shipyards.
The hospital ship USNS Comfort is en route to New York City. One of just two hospital ships in the Navy fleet, it has been dispatched from Norfolk, while its sister ship Mercy recently arrived in Los Angeles. Comfort will dock at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal (and some dredging is required to fit the converted oil tanker into the berth), while the counterpart Red Hook Cruise Terminal is being converted into one of the city’s five emergency hospitals, along with the Javits Center, Bronx Expo Center, Queens Aqueduct, and the College of Staten Island (which, coincidentally, sits on the former site of Halloran Hospital, the Army’s largest hospital in World War II).