Adams, Jefferson, and the Unlikely Founding of the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Two hundred and thirteen years ago today, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was founded, the last of the six original shipyards established by the US Navy. Today we celebrate the yard’s history of shipbuilding and innovation, and its continued importance to the economy of Brooklyn as an industrial park, but it almost never existed. Its founding in 1801 was rife with controversy, and around it swirled one of the central political battles of the early American republic. Today the Navy is one of the cornerstones of American power – possessing 10 of the world’s 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and more than one-third of all the naval tonnage in the world, the US Navy is 3.5 times the size of its nearest competitors, China and Russia. But at the end of the 18th century, the American navy was small and, at times, a non-existent force. While it achieved some notable victories in the Revolutionary War over a far superior British adversary, by 1785, economic constraints forced the nascent republic to sell off the last of its warships.>> Continue reading

USS Iowa: Brooklyn-Built Battleship Lives on in LA

Earlier this year, Cindy and I had the privilege of visiting one of the largest and most decorated ships ever built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the battleship USS Iowa. Launched from the Yard in 1942, for more than a year she has resided in Los Angeles as a fantastic museum ship. Thanks to the wonderful hospitality of the Iowa‘s staff, we got an up-close view of this historic piece of Brooklyn handiwork.

When we arrived at the Iowa last spring, we were greeted by Dave Way, the museum’s curator. Over the course of two days, Dave spent several hours with us showing off the ship’s exhibits and archives, and even taking us around some of the areas of the ship that most visitors don’t get to see. Transforming the Iowa into a museum was a monumental task, and Dave has been part of this project for several years. Along with a core group of volunteers, he spent nine months living ins spartan conditions on board the ship up in the Bay Area, working tens of thousands to fix and clean the mothballed vessel. Once the work was done, the Iowa was then towed down to her berth in San Pedro, where she finally opened to the public on July 4, 2012.>> Continue reading

New York Times: A Return to Duty for the Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital

New York Times, September 19, 2013

Streetscapes – Christopher Gray

The Brooklyn Navy Yard is known for its muscular collection of industrial architecture. Here, the battleship Missouri and other warships were built and repaired until the yard closed five decades ago. The regular weekend tours of the Navy Yard cover that and more, but at the end comes an unexpected treat: the magnificent, slightly sagging Naval Hospital, a ghostly marble temple built in 1838 and empty for two decades. A new plan may sweep away the cobwebs.

>> Read More

News 12 Brooklyn: Brooklyn Navy Yard hosts unique urban bike tour

News 12 Brooklyn, September 1, 2013

The Brooklyn Navy Yard gives many tours throughout the year, but tours at the 300-acre site are offering a unique twist starting this weekend.
The site is hosting urban ecology bicycle tours. Participants begin at the Navy Yard’s Building 92 and pedal past an urban rooftop farm, the waterfront and an oyster farm.

“We live in this urban center with all kinds of pavement and industry, and great urban energy all around us. But we don’t necessarily always think about the kinds of plants that are here, where they come from, what they’re called, and they have a history all of their own.”

>> Watch Video

Atlas Obscura: Realm of Wounded Soldiers: Abandoned Brooklyn Naval Hospital

Atlas Obscura, May 2, 2013

by Allison Meyer

Since it was decommissioned in 1966, the Brooklyn Navy Yard has morphed into a thriving center for independent industry and creative businesses, with many of its old military complexes and ship-building facilities being transformed into offices and studios. However, there are still areas of this massive area that once was a hub of naval ship construction that remain abandoned, and there it’s easiest to descend quickly into the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s history.

I recently visited the Navy Yard with Turnstile Tours, which offers a variety of tours at the Navy Yard, including one on World War II and one for photographers. Our final stop after an extensive exploration through the former military center’s history was one of those still-abandoned places: the Naval Hospital.

>> Read More

National Geographic Intelligent Travel: Hyper-Local Tours in NYC

National Geographic Intelligent Travel, April 4, 2013

by Rainer Jenss

[T]his very atypical tour was well worth the effort — for my family, and for others who want to dig a little deeper while they’re in New York. Best of all, if you’re in the city with the kids, besides maybe saving you some money, you won’t have to worry about finding a family-friendly restaurant and keeping the kids entertained – at least for one afternoon.

>> Read More

Navy Yard Manufacturer IceStone Uses Crowdsourcing to Recover from Sandy

We all know that glass is made of sand, but Hurricane Sandy was no friend to recycled glass countertop manufacturer IceStone.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard tenant was hit hard by the storm, with their manufacturing and warehouse floor submerged by almost four feet of water, causing damage to their facility and materials. The East River water that washed through the yard stained valuable slabs of finished countertop, contaminated high-grade raw materials, wreaked havoc with floor-level electrical systems, and disabled the conveying and fabrication machinery. In addition, the heart of the company’s marketing campaign – hundreds of beautiful sample pieces and 2000 purpose-built sample boxes and intricately designed binder displays – were completely destroyed.>> Continue reading

Pouring Concrete: The Brooklyn Navy Yard Prepares for War

Times of war have always brought the biggest transformations to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and none were bigger than those that took place during World War II. But long before the attack on Pearl Harbor plunged America into the global war, US military planners saw the need to expand the country’s navy in order to fight on two oceanic fronts. A larger navy required larger facilities not just to build ships, but to outfit, service, and repair them. In short, the navy needed more dry docks in more places around the world.>> Continue reading

Archtober at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Presented by the Center for Architecture, Archtober is an annual festival of lectures, tours, exhibitions, and films that celebrate all things architecture in New York City. These special tours of the Brooklyn Navy Yard will focus on the Yard’s unique built environment, including the Architecture & Infrastructure TourUrban Ecology Tour, and a special series of Inside Industry Tours featuring technology hardware prototyping space New Lab.

Tour Programs

icon-gears  Inside New Lab // FRI, Oct 11, 9:30am 
icon-building  Building the New Yard // SAT, Oct 12, 2pm
icon-leaf  Urban Ecology Tour // SAT, Oct 26, 11am