The Navy Yard's past, present and future are celebrated at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92, an exhbition and visitors center. Explore our free exhibit, take a Yard tour or join an exciting workshop, reading or film.
New York City's Occupation at the Heart of the American Revolution
As many as 11,500 die on the British prison ships moored off Wallabout Bay, the most infamous being the Jersey, where American soldiers, merchants and traders are imprisoned for disobeying the British embargo.
Navy Yard Established
President John Adams, a New Englander, favors a strong central government and a navy capable of protecting commerce and defending the young nation in a dangerous and hostile world. At the end of his presidency (1797-1801), Adams moves quickly to authorize the establishment of the first five naval shipyards including Brooklyn.
U.S. law makes slave-trading piracy, punishable by death. USS Ohio is the first Yard-built ship launched. From 1820-1861, U.S. Navy squadrons serve to suppress the trade off the coast of Africa. Yard-built ships including the USS Ohio, Savannah, Peacock, Dolphin, Vincennes, Fulton II, Decatur, San Jacinto, and Niagara, play key roles.
Commodore Matthew C. Perry is instrumental in founding the Naval Lyceum (precursor to the US Naval Academy) to "promote the diffusion of useful knowledge, foster a spirit of harmony and unity of interests in the service, cement the links which unite us as professional brethren." The first professional naval publication, the Naval Magazine is published here in 1836; frequent contributors being Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper.
Advent of Steam Engineering
The 9-gun side-wheel steamer Fulton II is launched as the first U.S. steam warship assigned to sea duty.
Technological Innovation, Dry Dock 1
The Government builds its third granite dry dock, and for this project makes the first use of a steam-powered pile driver in the United States.
Deeply committed to improving medical care, young Naval Surgeon E.R. Squibb seeks assignment to the Naval Hospital where he perfects manufacture of anesthetic ether. In 1857 he founds his own pharmaceutical company outside the Yard, which provides the majority of medical supplies for the Union Army during the Civil War.
First Undersea Cable Laid
The Yard-built USS Niagara and the British HMS Agamemnon meet mid-ocean to lay the first undersea telegraph cable. On August 5, Queen Victoria transmits the first Morse code message to the U.S.
Explosion Sparks the Spanish-American War
The launch of the USS Maine begins the "battleship era” for the United States. Its sinking nine years later in Havana Harbor sparks the Spanish-American War with the rallying cry, "Remember the Maine!"
Leading the Fleet
The Yard-built USS Connecticut serves as President Theodore Roosevelt’s flagship of the Great White Fleet, 26 vessels to sail the globe on a 2-year tour that marks the inauguration of the United States as a global power.
Opera singer Eugenia Farrar sings the first song broadcast over wireless radio. “I love you truly” broadcasts to test Dr. Lee DeForest’s arc radiotelephones on the USS Dolphin, docked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
USS Arizona Launched
The USS Arizona, largest ship in the Navy, is launched during WWI but does not play a role in the war. On the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, a bomb from a Japanese plane ignites the forward ammunition magazine and the ship sinks in under ten minutes, taking 1,177 men to their deaths.
Acme Years of World War II
The Yard doubles in size when the government annexes adjacent land of the second largest produce market in the nation to construct the world’s largest dry docks and crane. The population explodes as Yard management increases the workforce to 70,000 employees. Women are hired for the first time to work at the Yard as mechanics and technicians. WWII ends on September 2, 1945 when Japan signs unconditional surrender on the Yard-built USS Missouri a.k.a. "Mighty Mo.”
USS Constellation Disaster
Aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CV-64) is heavily damaged while under construction at the Yard. When a forklift pierces a fuel tank, fuel spills on welders below decks, igniting a fire that claims 50 lives and injures 323. The repair costs $75 million dollars, delays the ship’s commissioning by seven months and irreparably tarnishes the reputation of the Yard.
Brooklyn Navy Yard Closes
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara closes the Brooklyn Navy Yard along with over 90 other military bases and installations. At the time of it’s closing, the Yard employs more than 9,000 workers and is the oldest continually active industrial plant in New York State.
Industrial Park Era
New York City reopens the Brooklyn Navy Yard as an industrial park managed by a nonprofit organization called Commerce Labor and Industry in the County of Kings (CLICK). The largest tenant, Seatrain Shipbuilding, lays off 3,250 workers in 1975. Brooklyn House Representatives Shirley Chisholm and Fred Richmond obtain Congressional loans totaling $40 million to retain vital jobs but, in 1979, Seatrain closes. Mayor Koch replaces CLICK in 1981 with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.
Following the closures of two major maritime tenants and catastrophic job loss, BNYDC management begins to diversify its tenant base. Large spaces are carved up to accommodate small industrial enterprises that reflect the diversity, energy and creativity of the community.
Success & Growth
Diversification leads to 98% occupancy with over 200 small to midsized businesses employing 3,000 people. BNYDC’s Employment Center is expanded, a Summer Youth Program is established, and a shuttle service to the subways is launched to provide better access and encourage use of mass transit.
Expansion for the New Millennium
The City of New York takes note of BNYDC’s success and funds major upgrades to Yard’s basic infrastructure, some of it dating to the Civil War era. Businesses grow to 275 with nearly 6,000 employees. BNYDC undertakes sustainability initiatives to support a rapidly growing cluster of green manufacturers and to be a good neighbor to surrounding communities. The largest Yard expansion since WWII is underway.
Steiner Studios Opens
The 310,000-square-foot facility is the largest and most sophisticated studio complex outside of Hollywood, offering five soundstages and state-of-the-art film and television production facilities. In 2010, Steiner Studios begins major expansion to double in size, constructing five new sound stages and adaptively reusing the former Navy Applied Science Laboratory. A partnership with Brooklyn College will introduce the nation’s first affordable film school at an active studio lot.
BNYDC finances the nation’s first multi-story, multi-tenanted green industrial building and installs nation’s first wind/solar street lamps, designed by Navy Yard tenant Duggal Eco-Solutions.
Twelve new buildings in design or construction include Duggal’s “Green House” an adaptive reuse of a low-employment warehouse in the Yard into a high-employment sustainable design center; and, the adaptive reuse of a 220,000 square foot former Machine Shop as the Green Manufacturing Center.
BLDG 92 Opens
BNYDC opens BLDG 92--an exhibition, visitor and employment center--to promote Yard tenants, provide enhanced job placement services for the community and celebrate the Yard’s rich history.