The site of the Brooklyn Navy Yard has been used for hundreds of years by numerous groups to build and launch vessels into the East River.
After the American Revolution, merchant vessels were built here and in 1801 the U.S. Navy purchased 40 acres of land and established the official New York Naval Shipyard, which became active in 1806. In its heyday just before World War II the site included four dry docks, two steel shipways, barracks for marines, a power plant, radio station, machine shops, a federal style commandant’s house that was designed by Charles Bulfinch, and the area known as Admiral’s Row where many officers were housed.
The U.S. Naval Hospital is also situated on the land and was used by Union troops during the Civil War to dispense medicine. Many notable ships were built or completed here such as the Maine, the battleship North Carolina, the U.S.S. Arizona, and the U.S.S. Missouri. The yard was decommissioned in 1966.
Today the yard is an area of private manufacturing and commercial activity with over 200 tenants and more than 3,500 employees. It is currently in the middle of the biggest expansion since World War II with eight buildings and over 1.5 million square feet of new industrial space being erected. Some areas still remain undeveloped, such as the Naval Hospital and its adjoining cemetery, but plans are in the works to update these as well into the Navy Yard’s new modern identity.