For some, this is just a name of another borough. But for those who know it, it is one that possesses a identity that just isn’t present anywhere else in the city. One of hidden treasures that are only spoken of by word of mouth or accidental discovery. Let me tell you about one of them.
Many readers will know what I’m speaking about before I even speak its name. Looking at Brooklyn’s western waterfront on a city map you’ll notice its piers, easily discernible from the rest of the Brooklyn landscape, jutting into the East River enclosing Wallabout Bay. Sandwiched between Downtown Brooklyn and Williamsburg its home to really just one thing–The Brooklyn Navy Yard. We recently went in to check it out.
The mystique that the Yard holds in the minds of onlookers is not that it is was one of the largest shipbuilding enterprises of the Navy and built historic US naval ships like the USS Missouri (whose deck provided the stage for Japan’s formal surrender end to WWII), but the disturbing beauty that it holds in its crumbling state. On the portion of Flushing Avenue closest to Navy Street, onlookers can’t help but stand in awe at what used to be the homes to some of the most powerful men of in the United States during their time. Now their facades look as though they have suffered a number of bomb drops sprinkled with a few monsoons. Nature has become the sole tenants of these structures growing through their foundations providing the muse for the house in Jumanji – during gameplay. Jake Dobikin of the Gothamist and Blue Jake captured some of the most incredible shots we’ve ever seen of the interiors of Admiral’s Row. Though some parts of this area of the Navy Yard will be saved, others will be torn down to make way for a supermarket, retail plaza and light industrial building (more at New York Times).
Moving further down Flushing Avenue towards Williamsburg, the opening at the Cumberland Street entrance allows passerby’s to bear witness to the Yard’s focal point – Building 128; which, may look familiar from its presence on practically every Law & Order episode. When I peered through one of its broken windows I couldn’t help but think back to all of the mob pinches that I witnessed in The Sopranos that must have taken place here.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Navy Yard that most people don’t realize is that it’s not really a Navy Yard at all. Ever since it was shut down as an active naval base in 1966 it slowly grown to become the leader in Brooklyn’s revival as a major manufacturing scene. With an up-and-coming cast involving the likes of furniture makers, ship repair facilities, scene builders (including the builder of SNL’s scene sets), and a modular home builder (Capsys, Inc.) that was recently a topic of discussion in a New York Times article earlier this month. The Yard also plays home to Steiner Studios, the production company that has since become NYC’s largest television and film production facility.
But getting down to it what makes the Navy Yard “truly” special? Yes, it has history and topical significance, but why does it create such a stir in New York? Well, there are two answers to this:
(1) What it offers?
(2) What it will offer?
What it offers
Leasable office space for as small as 1500 sq. feet. What does this mean? This means cheap studio space for those struggling artists who are being pushed out of Williamsburg from skyrocketing rental prices. The Yard is experiencing an occupancy rate in the realm of 90%! This old naval facility of all places is perpetuating the ability for the creative class to maintain its ever-expanding growth in New York.
What it will offer
With all of its success the Navy Yard will only see further advances in years to come. Currently on the table for development is a grocery store, an employment placement and training center, a film school, and affordable housing all on its property. These facilities will be going against the general trend of the neighborhood to have businesses failing and residents fleeing to start tying this area back into Brooklyn.
Can’t wait to see what this place will be like in the next couple of years.
For additional photos of the Navy Yard and Building 128, check out our Facebook page.