(Re)connecting Brooklyn’s History: Brooklyn’s Homefront during World War II with Brooklyn Public Library

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The history and legacy of the Second World War can be seen all around us in Brooklyn. Once home to hundreds of factories, shipyards, and warehouses, and responsible for sending millions of service members off to the front lines, Brooklyn was arguably one of the most important communities in waging and winning the war. Using locations from communities across Brooklyn—including famous sites like the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal, and lesser-known sites that help tell stories about labor, housing, and culture—as well as primary source documents and oral histories, this program will help illuminate Brooklynites’ experience of World War II.

The (Re)connecting Brooklyn’s History series brings the fascinating work of historians to an audience of students and educators through online presentations and resources for sustained engagement with local history topics.

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Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92 Turns 10 | Episode 252

Photo of the lobby of BLGD 92 showing a large anchor and visitor services desk with a staff member and group of visitors gathered around it

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The Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92 opened its doors on Veterans Day 2011, 11/11/11, making it the first publicly-accessible building at the Yard in over a century, and the first in a series of projects that have pushed back Yard’s walls. BLDG 92 was created to be the public gateway, containing not only the museum of the Yard’s history and contemporary story, but serving as a hub for educational and public programs, and brining the Yard’s Employment Center closer to the community. On this virtual tour of BLDG 92 and its exhibits, we will look at how this project was realized, what the exhibits tell us about the Yard’s story, what is missing from that interpretation 10 years on, and how the Yard engages the public today through different sites and programs.

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Olmsted, Public Health, and Urban Planning with Olmsted-Beil House | Episode 244

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Join Turnstile Tours and the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House for a virtual panel discussion to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Frederick Law Olmsted’s report for the Staten Island Improvement Commission, a comprehensive plan for the island’s growth and development. We will hear unique perspectives about Staten Island in the late 1800s, Olmsted’s public health recommendations, and his legacy in the greenest borough of New York City. The panel will include Prof. Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, Director of Graduate Landscape Architecture Program at City College’s Spitzer School of Architecture; Jessica Kratz of the Staten Island Greenbelt Nature Center; naturalist Ed Johnson, emeritus curator of science at the Staten Island Museum; and moderated by Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours.

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Staying Afloat During COVID-19: Three Stories from the Brooklyn Waterfront

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The Brooklyn waterfront is blessed with many cultural institutions, but three of the most unique are led by three dynamic cultural entrepreneurs. The Brooklyn waterfront is richer because of Andrew Gustafson, Carolina Salguero, and David Sharps, who lead Turnstile Tours, PortSide NewYork, and the Waterfront Museum, respectively. Join the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center for a virtual Breakfast Talk with these entrepreneurs as they speak about how they have been navigating their institutions through the pandemic. After each explains their unique mission, they will tell us what they did to carry on during COVID, how they did it, and which of the changes they have made will be carried into post-pandemic Brooklyn.

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Exploring the Morris Canal with the Canal Society of New Jersey | Episode 172

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For almost a century, New Jersey’s Morris Canal fueled New York City with anthracite coal from northeast Pennsylvania, but now for nearly another century, the abandoned canal has been all but obliterated from the landscape. Join us as Tim Roth of the Canal Society of New Jersey helps uncover this lost canal, its innovative design, and its vital role in the history of New York City. Our discussion will also look at the lives of the people who worked that waterway, and current efforts to return its remnants to public view.

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Lighting the Way: Staten Island’s National Lighthouse Museum | Episode 129

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From the Civil War through the 1960’s, a site next to the Staten Island Ferry terminal served as the central depot supplying America’s lighthouses and Aids to Navigation. Join us for a virtual visit with historian Wade Goria to the National Lighthouse Museum, which tells the story of this essential service and the people, equipment, and structures that have kept America’s shipping channels safe.

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Voices of World War II: Brooklyn Navy Yard Oral Histories | Episode 124

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To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, we are listening to the voices of men and women who lived through the war in Brooklyn. We will share a selection of the 100+ oral histories that make up the collection in the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archives to bring the city at war to life. Learn what it was like to be one of the first female shipworkers in 1942, or to face discrimination as a Black sailor in the segregated Navy, or to witness battered ships and sailors limp into the Yard from the war zone. Our team will also share our experiences recording oral histories with these remarkable people over the past 12 years.

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Art and Architecture of Prospect Park Zoo | Episode 123

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Take a deep dive into the art and architecture of Prospect Park Zoo on this virtual program that will include a live broadcast interview with Zoo Director Denise McClean of the Wildlife Conservation Society. We will learn about the history of architectural designs for zoos across New York City, the story of architect Aymar Embury III and his designs for the zoo, stories behind the animal-inspired bas reliefs and sculptures, (including the artist behind the beloved topiary sculptures), and the evolution of the zoo itself over time.

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Boatbuilding History with the City Island Nautical Museum | Episode 122

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For well over a century, City Island in western Long Island Sound was an important maritime community, not only as a destination for tourists — which it still is — but also as a center of yacht building and sail-making. As fiberglass superseded wood, the boatbuilding ceased, and the sail-making industry moved on to other locations, but the island remains proud of its nautical heritage, which is celebrated in the City Island Nautical Museum.

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The Melvilles and Sailors’ Snug Harbor: A Story of New York | Episode 118

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By the time he published Moby-Dick in 1851, Herman Melville’s career as a popular prose writer was almost over. While Melville was working on the docks as a customs inspector to support his family, his younger brother Thomas was across the harbor with one of the best jobs in New York City: governor of Staten Island’s Sailors’ Snug Harbor. Join this virtual program to celebrate Herman’s 201st birthday with John Rocco, a Distinguished Teaching Professor and Coordinator of the Maritime and Naval Studies (MNST) Master’s program at SUNY Maritime College, who will introduce us to the Melville brothers’ relationship and its impact on Melville’s “lost” years and final work, Billy Budd, Sailor.

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