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.
Celebrate Navy Day with a discussion of one of the least-known units of World War II, the Navy Armed Guard. Serving in the U-boat-infested waters of the Atlantic, these sailors served in small detachments aboard merchant ships manning the deck guns. This virtual program will be hosted from the Sunset Park waterfront, where many sailors departed from the docks of the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Bush Terminal, and where the largest Armed Guard Center in the country was located, the Second Battalion Naval Militia Armory that once stood on 1st Avenue and 52nd Street. We will discuss the creation and evolution of the service during World War II, listen to oral histories of Armed Guard sailors, and visit one of the few memorials to the sacrifices of these brave men.
Photo Credit: Official US Navy photograph, taken by Clarence F. Korker
Built on the footprint of the piers and warehouses of the historic Bush Terminal, Bush Terminal Park provided much-needed green space and waterfront access to the Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood when it opened in 2014. Join us for a virtual walk through the 22-acre park, which offers remnants of the site’s maritime and manufacturing history, unique engineered tide pools and a wild-growing forest, and unparalleled views of the harbor and skyline.
As we approach New York City’s primary elections on June 22, housing, as always, is a key issue on the ballot. So we are looking back at the history of social housing in New York – not just the city’s vast NYCHA public housing system, but also other forms of government and philanthropic intervention that have tried to tame the beast of unsafe, unsanitary, and unaffordable housing over the past 100+ years. This program will look at examples of model housing designed by social reformers, landmark cooperatives built by labor unions and community groups, the rise of public housing beginning in the 1930s, and public subsidies for private developments. This wide-ranging examination will take us from the Home and Tower Buildings to the First Houses, from Stuy-Town to the housing lottery.
Take a virtual ride with us on the South Brooklyn route of the NYC Ferry. We will board at Corlears Hook and examine the Brooklyn waterfront as we ride past DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Red Hook, Sunset Park, and finally end in Bay Ridge. Along the way, we will look back at the industrial history of these neighborhoods and see some of the last vestiges of the industrial and working waterfront in Brooklyn, including the Red Hook Container Terminal, Erie Basin, and the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We will also discuss many of things to see and do near the ferry stops.
Open House New York Weekend is just over a week away, and with over 300 sites throwing open their doors, some careful planning is required to get the most out of it. We have created a brief thematic guide to some of our favorite sites around the city – especially ones along the waterfront – that you can explore Oct. 18–20.>> Continue reading
Located on the border of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge, the Brooklyn Army Terminal is nearby to many options for brunch, lunch, or a drink before or after your tour. If you like Mediterranean food, head to Bay Ridge for Lebanese standout Tanoreen or grab take-out from the Family Store. Industry City offers a host of food options seven days a week, including a food hall and Japan Village, or try a craft beverage at Brooklyn Kura Sake or the nearby Five Boroughs Brewing. Sunset Park is second-to-none in New York City for Mexican food along 4th and 5th Avenues, including Tacos El Bronco (which has a restaurant and a food truck), Tacos Matamoros, El Maguey, and Rosa’s Bakery. Or you can head up the hill a few blocks to 8th Avenue, Brooklyn’s Chinatown, where we recommend weekend dim sum at East Harbor or noodle bowls at Yun Nan Flavor Garden. Click the map below for more information. >> Continue reading
Five Boroughs Brewing is a craft brewery producing 4,000 barrels of beer at annually in the heart of the Sunset Park industrial district. Their taproom is a great place to try their wide and unique selection of beers and is open to the public Thursday–Sunday (visit their website for detailed hours). The brewery is a short walk from the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and it’s a great place to grab a drink after a tour. They don’t serve food, but there are many options to order take-out delivered right to your barstool.
215 47th St, Brooklyn, NY // Tasting Room // More Info
Masaki and Yukimi Momose have been making their Japanese-style salad dressings for more than three years, but now, they are finally making it in a space they can call their own. Their company, MOMO Dressing, is the first tenant in the Brooklyn Army Terminal’s Annex, a former administration building for the military complex that is now being reinvented as a center of food manufacturing.
MOMO held their grand opening on August 10 with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which spent $15 million renovating the 55,000-square-foot building. Also in attendance was another food manufacturer who calls the Terminal home – chocolatier Jacques Torres.>> Continue reading
The next blow to Sunset Park’s industrial waterfront came fifteen years later, as shipping technology evolved away from long piers and tall warehouses. “The introduction of the shipping container in the late 1950s really dramatically transformed the industry,” said Andrew Gustafson, who leads historical tours of the Brooklyn Army Terminal for his company, Turnstile Tours. “Basically, these enormous facilities like the Bush Terminal and the Brooklyn Army Terminal became totally obsolete for their original use. … And then you also have the decline of manufacturing spaces,” said Gustafson.