People and Motion at the Brooklyn Navy Yard: Photographer Travis Magee

“Chingi and Matty,” with the Green Manufacturing Center behind them. Credit: Travis Magee

When we think of contemporary images of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, its built environment tends to come to mind – cranes, dry docks, and workshops built across the centuries to drive industry forward. But the Yard has always been a “peopled” place – yes, the number of men and women occupying those buildings has fluctuated greatly, but this has always been a place of work, today teeming with to more than 7,000 workers.

Few artists have done a more beautiful job of peopling the imagery of the Navy Yard than photographer Travis Magee. Selected to be part of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92’s inaugural class of visiting artists in 2013, Travis’ work is focused very much on people and motion. This is in large measure due to the fact that he began his artistic career as a dancer. He moved to New York City with his family at age 14 to begin serious dance training, and after high school he studied contemporary dance at the Boston Conservatory. He then returned to New York to embark on his professional career, though his path would diverge somewhat.>> Continue reading

“The Wind Rises,” Japan Falls

The Academy Awards are tomorrow night, and nominated is a film that has only hit American cinemas in wide release this weekend, Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, up for Best Animated Feature. I had the opportunity to see the film during its limited release back in November, a three-day run that made it eligible for an Oscar this year, and I saw it again during its official premiere on Friday. While its love story is beautiful, its engineering story is fascinating, it’s the moral and historical drama that unfolds almost in the background that I found most compelling.>> Continue reading

EcoLogic Solutions Brings Green Cleaning to the Brooklyn Navy Yard

When it comes to so-called “green” products, we usually expect to pay more for something that doesn’t do the job quite as well as its mainstream counterpart. EcoLogic Solutions proves that this kind of thinking is hogwash.

A commercial cleaning products manufacturer based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, they make a full line of commercial-grade, plant-based, wholly biodegradable cleaning products. They simply sweep the floor (and clean and disinfect the surface) with the toxic competition.

CEO Anselm Doering founded EcoLogic after reading a poster in a New York Thruway rest stop restroom stating, “Proud to be cleaned by Lysol.”>> Continue reading

Where Your Presents Came From: The Port of New York & New Jersey

By now all of us who celebrate Christmas have given and received our gifts.  While we all put a great deal of thought (hopefully) into finding the perfect present for our loved ones, we probably put considerably less into considering how that item arrived under the tree on Christmas morning (Santa-borne gifts excluded, of course).  The last leg of the journey, whether sorted by Amazon, or shipped by UPS or the Postal Service, is certainly a logistical marvel unto itself, but we’re more interested in the first leg – and if any of those gifts or any of their components were made overseas (and even some that were made domestically), there is a 95% chance that they made the better part of their journey to your home by ship.>> Continue reading

Discover Uncommon Gifts on Our Brooklyn Army Terminal Tour Nov. 24

Looking for unique, memorable gifts for the holiday season?  Well, this Sunday, our walking tour of the Brooklyn Army Terminal will feature a special visit to one of the facility’s largest tenants, online retailer UncommonGoods, which develops, sells, and ships fantastically creative, one-of-a-kind items from their headquarters in Sunset Park.

While most of our tours of the Terminal explore the waterfront and common areas of the facility, like the iconic atrium, this tour will give visitors a behind-the-scenes look inside one of the working spaces.  Not only will we see how the stark warehouse spaces have been built out into modern offices and production lines, we will also learn about some of the products UncommonGoods sells, and how the company greatly expands during the busy holiday season, ramping up their workforce five-fold during the fourth quarter.>> Continue reading

Brooklyn “B-Corps” Offer New Models for Business Success

Today, many of the products we buy are slapped with a dizzying array of certification labels.  You’ve probably seen the USDA certification attached to organic food products, or the Fair Trade label on coffee.  Sustainably-harvested wood has the Forest Stewardship Council’s FSC certification system, and Cradle to Cradle certification covers everything from  raw materials and industrial products to consumer goods and personal care products.  And if you’ve been on a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, you know about the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) rating system and seen beautiful examples of LEED buildings in the Yard, including Building 92, the Perry Building, and even the NYPD Brooklyn tow pound, among others.  Many industries across the world are waking up to the need for stronger ecological and social standards, and third-party certification programs help consumers to navigate the claims of the product, building, or manufacturer in question.>> Continue reading

Meet Our Team: Sustainability Guide Doug Chapman

Over the next several weeks, we will be posting brief interviews with all of our great team members at Turnstile Tours. From historians to actors, special education professionals to artists, our team possesses a wide range of experience and expertise that help to make our tours well-crafted, engaging, and accessible to any audience.

Meet Doug Chapman, head of Sustainability Programming and leader of our Sustainability Tours of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Where are you from originally, Doug?

I grew up in Toronto, Canada and went to high school in Interlochen, MI.>> Continue reading

Vending Beyond the Street: de Royal Dinges Factory

One of the amazing things about mobile food vendors is how much they are able to cram into a tiny curbside kitchen – they’re bristling with compartments meticulously arranged to deliver and often complex menu to customers quickly and efficiently.

But what you see on the street is often only a fraction of the operation.

Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to visit de Royal Dinges Factory, home base of Wafels & Dinges, who’s unmistakable fleet of bright yellow food carts and trucks can spotted all over the city.  They are a featured stop on almost all of our Food Cart Tours of Midtown and the Financial District, and they have been a great partner over the years.  Company founder Thomas DeGeest and manager Sophie Grant led me and some other food writers on a tour of their commissary and kitchen, located in Gowanus, Brooklyn, where we got to see how the dinges gets made, so to speak.>> Continue reading

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