by Kevin Walsh

From the ForgottenBook

The New York Naval Shipyard, known popularly as the Brooklyn Navy Yard, was established by the federal government in 1801. Robert Fulton’s steamship was built here and launched in 1815; the battleship Maine in 1890, as well as the first angled-deck aircraft carrier, the Antietam, were also built at the Navy Yard.

The Navy Yard at its peak just previous to World War II employed 10,000 workers. It has 5 miles of paved streets; 4 dry docks (including the nation’s oldest, which began construction in 1840) ranging in length from 326 to 700 feet; two steel shipways; and six pontoons for salvage work. The Navy Yard was decommissioned in 1966 and is now a center for private manufacturing and industrial parks, and is still, unfortunately, largely closed to the public except for the occasional official tour.

Sadly, apart from the 1806-1807 Commandant’s House, possibly designed by Charles Bulfinch, on the northern end of the complex abutting Vinegar Hill, most of the Navy Yard’s old officer’s quarters facing Flushing Avenue, some dating from the mid-to-late 19th Century, have been allowed to rot for nearly five decades. They look out over Flushing Avenue between Navy Street and Carlton Avenue, their windows ivied and hollow. The Navy Yard does include the landmarked Surgeon’s House, built in 1863 for the Navy Yard’s chief surgeon, and the United States Naval Hospital, built from 1838 to 1862.

In August 2016, all but one of the decrepit structures were demolished to make way for a supermarket. Curbed’s Nathan Kensinger has a photo essay on the demolition process.

FNY took a look at classic Navy Yard buildings in 2008.



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