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.
Since 2003, IceStone has been manufacturing countertops in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Made from 100% recycled glass, cement, and pigment, their unique designs and innovative production process have made IceStone a leading company in sustainable manufacturing. On this virtual tour, we will explore their products and process with Marketing Director Ashon McCollin, who will walk us through their factory, discuss commercial and residential projects they have worked on, and highlight the company’s initiatives to support the environment and their workers, which have made them a Certified B Corporation and a leader in the social enterprise movement.
On December 19, 1960, the Brooklyn Navy Yard suffered the worst accident in its history, a devastating fire aboard the USS Constellation that killed 50 workers. This fire was not only a tragedy for those who were killed and injured and their families, but it marked a turning point in the Yard’s history that many believe led to its closure less than six years later. Over the years, we have had the honor to meet many people that lived through this ordeal, and we will share oral histories and photos from the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archives to reconstruct this fateful day and examine its impact on individuals, the city, and the Navy.
On the eve of Veterans Day, join us as we explore Brooklyn’s homefront during World War II through the experiences of those who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Center for Brooklyn History archivists Amy Lau and Mary Mann team up with Turnstile Tours’ Andrew Gustafson to lead us on an intimate journey that weaves together oral history clips from CBH’s Brooklyn Navy Yard collection, excerpts of letters to loved ones overseas, and photographs of the Yard and its workers. These first-hand stories, primarily from women and people of color, bring to life the WWII efforts of those who remained at home.
November 10 marks the 245th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, which has had a longstanding presence in Brooklyn, dating back to the first marine guards posted at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1807. This virtual program will highlight important historical moments and the evolving mission of the Corps – from the Draft Riots and Whisky Wars of the 1860’s to the Caribbean interventions of the 1910’s to the Vietnam War – through the lens of the marines stationed here in Brooklyn. We will examine original historical documents and listen to oral histories of marines and their families to better understand the meaning of “Semper Fidelis” – always faithful.
Take a virtual ride with us on the Astoria route of the NYC Ferry. We will board at Wall Street, and on this one-hour ride, we will examine the historical buildings along the waterfront of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, and learn about things to do at each of the ferry’s stops. We will stop by Wallabout Bay for a visit to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and other landmarks of the industrial waterfront, learn about the history of housing in the Lower East Side, Midtown, and Long Island City, examine the river’s barge traffic, past and present, and discuss the natural and manmade islands that stretch along the river. To accompany this guided tour, check out our free map guide that we created for Open House New York.
Celebrate Open House New York Weekend by joining us for a live virtual visit to the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s historic Dry Dock No. 1. Built in 1851, this New York City landmark is the third-oldest naval dry dock in the country, and it is still used for ship repair today. We will discuss its fascinating history, as well as learn about the Yard’s active working waterfront, which includes the largest ship repair facility in New York Harbor. This program is part of the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s day-long series of live programs, including virtual visits to artists and manufacturers (see the full schedule), and check out pre-recorded virtual tours of other tenant businesses.
As part of Open House New York Weekend, we have created this map to guide you around the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the surrounding neighborhoods to explore the history, architecture, and food of this landmark of Brooklyn. Download this PDF guide and check out the rest of our OHNY 2020 programming.
By sheer coincidence, October 8 marks the launching USS Saratoga (1955) and USS Constellation (1960), two of the largest ships ever built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is why we’ve dubbed it “Supercarrier Day.” Aircraft carriers were once a common sight in New York Harbor, as they were built, repaired, and modernized in local shipyards, or they visited for fleet reviews or R&R, but it has been more than 15 years since a carrier visited the city. In this virtual program, we’ll look at important moments in the 100-year history of naval aviation in the region, including early experiments in carrier design, significant carriers of World War II, adapting carriers to the Jet Age, and why no nuclear-powered carriers have ever visited NYC.
Join us for a virtual visit to Bien Hecho, a woodworking business at the Brooklyn Navy Yard that specializes in making furniture, millwork, cabinetry, public street seats, and other custom woodwork from reclaimed and sustainably-sourced wood. We’ll hear the story behind John Randall’s decade-old business, and how he has salvaged and transformed scrap wood, from a Brooklyn water tower to the Coney Island boardwalk, into beautifully-designed pieces of furniture and functional sculptures. This program will also explore Bien Hecho Academy, where classes and workshops take place. We’ll show some of the machinery and tools in the woodworking shop with the Academy’s Director Angie Yang, and we’ll get some insider tips on woodworking you can do at home or that you can also put into practice by joining Bien Hecho Academy’s exciting classes.