U-Boats, Bootleggers, and Buoys: The History of the Coast Guard in New York Harbor | Episode 119

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To mark the 230th birthday of the United States Coast Guard, we’re looking back at the history of the “always ready” service. Due to New York’s position as one of the country’s largest ports, the Coast Guard has ensured its safety and security for more than two centuries, and today they have the largest presence of any military service branch in New York City. We will share stories of the Coast Guard fighting U-boats in both World Wars, hunting bootleggers during Prohibition, and ensuring the safe navigation of the harbor for everybody from container ships to kayakers. We will also be joined by Coast Guard veteran Ramon Ortiz, who served aboard the icebreaking tug USCGC Sturgeon Bay and in Coast Guard Sector New York.

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War Comes to Brooklyn: Green-Wood Cemetery and the Brooklyn Army Terminal | Virtual Program

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To mark Memorial Day weekend, this virtual program will examine the connections between the residents of Green-Wood Cemetery and the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Following both World Wars, the Terminal was a principal destination for the repatriation of servicemen killed overseas, many of whom were buried in nearby Green-Wood. We will also look at the monuments of many people who built, worked, and served at the Army Terminal, as well as other important figures in the development of Brooklyn’s military and industrial waterfront over the past century.

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Before Rosie: Women at the Brooklyn Navy Yard pre-World War II | Virtual Program

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Before the celebrated images of “Rosie the Riveter” and “Winnie the Welder,” women served in a variety of roles at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in uniform and as civilian workers. We will celebrate Mother’s Day by looking back at the flag makers, telephone operators, nurses, and more that made the Navy Yard run, and paved the way for the thousands of welders, shipfitters, and machinists that worked in the Yard in World War II, and the women serving in all ranks and branches of the armed forces today.

The program is a great prelude to our program on Saturday, May 16 with Manhattan Beach author Jennifer Egan.

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100 Years of Refuge at the Brooklyn Army Terminal

May 15, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the groundbreaking for the Brooklyn Army Terminal. This remarkable facility served for 47 years as a critical supply base and logistics hub for the US Army, and today it is a center of industry and innovation, home to 100 companies and nearly 4,000 jobs. Throughout this centenary week, we will be sharing stories of the Terminal, past and present, on our blog and social media.


The Brooklyn Army Terminal was designed for war, a massive warehouse and port facility to receive, store, process, and ship war materiel to points around the globe. But the Terminal did not just send out troops and supplies to wage war; it has also been an important place of refuge and relief for people trying to escape persecution, war, and disaster. Here are some examples of the Brooklyn Army Terminal’s history as a safe haven over the last century.>> Continue reading

The Brooklyn Navy Yard and the US Occupation of Haiti, 1915–1934

Portrait of Gompers as a young man in a suit and a newsboy style hat.

As we reflect on the deeper meaning and troubling implication of the US president describing certain foreign countries as “shitholes,” it has also opened an opportunity to think critically about how and why these places became impoverished. Often, European and American imperial intervention – or outright exploitation – played a significant role. While we celebrate the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a center of innovation, labor, and service, we must also recognize its role in projecting American power across the globe, sometimes for less-than-noble ends.

Take Haiti, the world’s first free black republic, founded as the result of a slave rebellion against French colonial rule. Following the revolution, France and the Great Powers attempted to strangle this young nation in the crib, placing trade embargoes and saddling it with astronomical debt. The United State has a long and complicated history with the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, but the height of US involvement was when the American military occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934. Many of the actions of this military operation originated 1,300 miles away in Brooklyn.>> Continue reading

From Fulton to Constellation: The Worst Accidents in the History of the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Today marks the 57th anniversary of perhaps the darkest day in the history of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. To commemorate the fire on board the USS Constellation, we are going to look back at some of the most notable and deadliest accidents in the history of the Yard.

Shipbuilding is a dangerous business (even today), and fatal accidents were frequent throughout industry in the nineteenth century. The scale, pace, and nature of the work in the Navy Yard made it particularly risky, as workers and sailors fell victim to hazards like falling from great heights, being struck by heavy loads, violent machinery, drowning, fires, and exploding munitions and equipment. Workplace safety began to improve around the time of World War I, and more concerted campaigns began during World War II, when safety was urged as an imperative of national security.>> Continue reading

Archtober Podcast: Brooklyn Grange Farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Throughout AIA NY’s Archtober – New York Architecture Month – each day has a “Building of the Day,” which is highlighted with tours and other programming. This year, three of the 29 featured sites are located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, including New Lab, the Naval Cemetery Landscape, and on October 3, the Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm. As part of the celebration, our own Andrew Gustafson sat down with Grange COO Gwen Schantz to talk about the farm and the history of the building it sits on, the massive Building 3.

In this 5-minute conversation, they discussed the construction of Building 3 during the height of World War I, past and current uses of the building, and how and why the Grange built their 1.5-acre farm on this 11-story structure. The podcast is featured on Culture Now’s Museum Without Walls project.>> Continue reading

Immigrants Who Made the Brooklyn Navy Yard Great: Stanislaw Kozikowski

This post is part of our eight-part series profiling immigrants to the United States who made significant contributions to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from the eighteenth century to the present day.


Stanislaw Kozikowski (1895–1967)

Stan Kozikowski came to fame as a young man in the First World War, but spent much of his life as an unheralded machinist in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He was born in Poland – then part of the Russian Empire – in 1895 (according to his naturalization record; other records cite 1894 and 1896) and emigrated to the United States in 1912; five years later, about age 21 and not yet a US citizen, he was drafted into the US Army. There he joined the famed 77th “Statue of Liberty” Division, 308th Infantry Regiment, which is where he would demonstrate his remarkable bravery as a member of the “Lost Battalion.” >> Continue reading

Immigrants Who Made the Brooklyn Navy Yard Great: Peter Asserson

This post is part of our eight-part series profiling immigrants to the United States who made significant contributions to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from the eighteenth century to the present day.


Peter Christian Asserson (1839–1906)

The Brooklyn Navy Yard has always adapted to change. Over its first 165 years, rapid changes in naval ship designs forced the adoption of new shipbuilding technologies, materials, and techniques, and the construction of new facilities. No single person did more to shepherd the Yard through these transitions than Peter Christian Asserson, civil engineer of the Navy Yard from 1885 to 1901.>> Continue reading

Homing Pigeons Return to Brooklyn Navy Yard After 115-Year Absence with “Fly By Night”

After a hiatus of 115 years, a vast squadron of homing pigeons has returned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

This weekend marks the opening of Fly By Night, an ambitious performance piece by artist Duke Riley and produced by Creative Time. On the deck of the decommissioned naval vessel Baylander, Riley and his team have erected a pigeon coop and assembled some 1,800 birds. After weeks of training and preparations, performances will begin on May 7 and run for six weeks, every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night at dusk. Each evening, this flock will be released as the sun begins to set, each bearing an LED light on its foot to create a swirling, winged light show above the East River.>> Continue reading