Open House New York at Brooklyn Army Terminal | Episode 150

View of the metal frames that span the two sides of Building B, a massive concrete industrial building with an atrium at the center that opens to the sky.

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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.

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Images d’Épinal: Paper Models from the Turn of the Century | Episode 127

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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.

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War Comes to Brooklyn: Green-Wood Cemetery and the Brooklyn Army Terminal | Episode 76

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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.

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Before Rosie: Women at the Brooklyn Navy Yard pre-World War II | Episode 59

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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.

The program is a great prelude to our program on Saturday, May 16 with Manhattan Beach author Jennifer Egan.

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Hospital Ships and Shipwright Tools: Exploring Collections of the South Street Seaport Museum | Episode 56

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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.

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Comfort at Sea: History of Hospital Ships in New York City

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).

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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

100 Years of Refuge at the Brooklyn Army Terminal

May 15, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the groundbreaking for the Brooklyn Army Terminal. This remarkable facility served for 47 years as a critical supply base and logistics hub for the US Army, and today it is a center of industry and innovation, home to 100 companies and nearly 4,000 jobs. Throughout this centenary week, we will be sharing stories of the Terminal, past and present, on our blog and social media.

The Brooklyn Army Terminal was designed for war, a massive warehouse and port facility to receive, store, process, and ship war materiel to points around the globe. But the Terminal did not just send out troops and supplies to wage war; it has also been an important place of refuge and relief for people trying to escape persecution, war, and disaster. Here are some examples of the Brooklyn Army Terminal’s history as a safe haven over the last century.>> Continue reading

The Brooklyn Navy Yard and the US Occupation of Haiti, 1915–1934

Portrait of Gompers as a young man in a suit and a newsboy style hat.

As we reflect on the deeper meaning and troubling implication of the US president describing certain foreign countries as “shitholes,” it has also opened an opportunity to think critically about how and why these places became impoverished. Often, European and American imperial intervention – or outright exploitation – played a significant role. While we celebrate the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a center of innovation, labor, and service, we must also recognize its role in projecting American power across the globe, sometimes for less-than-noble ends.

Take Haiti, the world’s first free black republic, founded as the result of a slave rebellion against French colonial rule. Following the revolution, France and the Great Powers attempted to strangle this young nation in the crib, placing trade embargoes and saddling it with astronomical debt. The United State has a long and complicated history with the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, but the height of US involvement was when the American military occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934. Many of the actions of this military operation originated 1,300 miles away in Brooklyn.>> Continue reading

Archtober Podcast: Brooklyn Grange Farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Throughout AIA NY’s Archtober – New York Architecture Month – each day has a “Building of the Day,” which is highlighted with tours and other programming. This year, three of the 29 featured sites are located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, including New Lab, the Naval Cemetery Landscape, and on October 3, the Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm. As part of the celebration, our own Andrew Gustafson sat down with Grange COO Gwen Schantz to talk about the farm and the history of the building it sits on, the massive Building 3.

In this 5-minute conversation, they discussed the construction of Building 3 during the height of World War I, past and current uses of the building, and how and why the Grange built their 1.5-acre farm on this 11-story structure. The podcast is featured on Culture Now’s Museum Without Walls project.>> Continue reading