Places that Matter

Brooklyn Navy Yard

A Navy shipyard from 1801 until 1966, important during the Civil War
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Place Matters Profile

What is now the Brooklyn Navy Yard used to be a tobacco plantation on the East River on what was then called "Wallabout Bay." In 1781, it was transformed into a shipping yard, and in 1801, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was founded as the New York Naval Shipyard. For 165 years the Yard produced America’s mightiest warships and related technologies that helped shape our nation’s future. During the Civil War, it was the primary site for repairing ships and distributing supplies for the Union Fleet. During WWII the “Can-Do” Yard employed 70,000 male and female civilian workers who built, converted or repaired over 5,000 ships in service to our nation. Many of the surrounding Fort Greene residents were shipbuilders and repairmen. When the Yard closed in 1966, thousands of New Yorkers lost their jobs and, although the City purchased the property, it took decades for the Yard and its neighbors to recover. Today, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Industrial Park is home to over 300 businesses in diverse industries from traditional maritime to media, medicine, design and construction, fashion, carpentry and green manufacturing. Throughout its history, the Yard has been a center of industrial innovation and its workers have displayed skilled craftsmanship and an entrepreneurial spirit that are the foundation for the Yard’s revitalization and success today.

This vibrant industrial park sits on its historic 300-acre site along the East River in between the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges, and is bordered by the neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Dumbo. More than 45 building altogether represent an extraordinary variety of architectural styles, dating from the early 19th century to the 21st century state-of-the-art, with influences of premiere architects in Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Art Deco, and Moderne styles with exemplar related engineering technologies. Waterfront assets include six historic dry docks and active piers. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Yard is also home to three NYC landmarks: the oldest operating Naval dry dock in the nation (1851), the US Naval Hospital (1838), and the Chief Surgeon's Quarters (1863).

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC) operates the Yard on behalf of its owner, the City of New York. Under BNYDC management, as of 2013, the Yard is in the midst of its largest expansion since WWII. Environmental sustainability - including green infrastructure improvement, preservation and recognition of the Yard's rich history, are core components of existing and future revitalization efforts. Major development projects are currently under way at several Yard sites including the redevelopment of the naval hospital complex as a state-of-the-art media campus, the opening of the Green Manufacturing Center in a 240,000-square-foot former machine shop, the conversation of the Yard's largest building into a biomedical hub and a development plan for the historic Admiral's Row site that includes the preservation of an 1833 timber shed, Quarters B, and new construction of 125,000 square feet of industrial space, and a grocery store which will bring much needed food and jobs to the local community.

The history of the Yard - from the Revolutionary War tot he revolutionin jobs and manufacturing happening in New York City right now - is explored through exhibits and programs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92, which opened to the public in November 2011.