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As a team of zealous urban explorers and photographers, we’re always on the hunt for abandoned places across New York City. Sites that are both visually stunning and full of history are particularly interesting to us. We previously highlighted a handful of such places on Staten Island and in Queens. Continuing our trip through the boroughs, we’re now shining a spotlight on Brooklyn, which is home to aged industrial sites, forgotten theaters and a litter-strewn beach.

There are simply too many intriguing places to name, so this roundup is just the tip of the iceberg. From a mysterious power plant to secret park, here are 12 abandoned sites you can discover in Brooklyn.

12. Floyd Bennett Field

Brooklyn’s Barren Island is home to Floyd Bennett Field, New York’s first municipal airport built in 1931. Sections of the site have been abandoned since the Navy deactivated the airfield in 1971, but in its heyday, Floyd Bennett Field saw ascents by historic aviators, such as Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes. With this kind of a storied history, the airfield naturally lends itself to having a few secrets.

The airfield was named after Floyd Bennett, a World War I aviator who was recruited to pilot an expedition to the North Pole. It has been the site of many historic flights, one of the most memorable being the outing by Howard Hughes in 1938 to circumnavigate the Earth in record time. In 1941, the airfield shifted from a municipal airport to a Naval Air Station, where those who made and tested aircrafts worked during World War II. It soon became the busiest naval air station in the United States. The NYPD and FDNY have made use of the facilities post-war, mostly for storage.

11. Dead Horse Bay

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Just next to Floyd Bennett Field sits Dead Horse Bay, whose macabre name aptly describes its history. Dead Horse Beach was once a separate island known as Barren Island, before the area was landfilled to create Floyd Bennett Field. In 1859, the first horse rendering plants were constructed on Barren Island, which processed dead horses by mashing them up, steaming them, separating the products and boiling the bones down into glue. The remnants became commercial fertilizer. This was seen as a better alternative to the ongoing practice, where horses were simply left to rot and decompose on New York City’s streets. Originally, Barren Island was considered ideal for this noxious activity because it was so remote, nobody would complain about the smell.

Later, Barren Island was also used to deal with the city’s garbage problem. Prior to the formation of the New York Sanitary Utilization Company, trash was dumped into the waterways. Motivated by financial reasons — the garbage was getting in the way of ship traffic — the city selected Barren Island for the processing and disposal of trash.

Similar to the horses, the trash would be boiled and steam cooked until a layer of grease emerged at the top to be skimmed off and sold for industrial lubrication and soap. But with encroaching development, even Barren Island became too close for comfort due to the smell. The stench, which could reach a radius of six to ten miles, would waft over to beach goers on Manhattan Beach where hotel evacuations would occur. Unsurprisingly, neighboring communities began complaining and locals formed the Anti-Barren Island League. The landfill ceased operation in the 1940s and was capped off in 1953, but the waste emerges on a daily basis due to erosion, leaving a beach of strewn bottles, old toys, and shoes.

10. Bergen Street Lower Level Platform

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In Brooklyn, an abandoned level below the Bergen Street station is a favorite spot for urban explorers, one of many New York City subway stations that have abandoned platforms. In the early 1990s, renovations to the station, which serves the F and G trains, damaged the lower platform, which had been used from time to time over the course of the station’s existence since 1933. Silver doors on the upper level conceal open staircases that go down to the lower level.

While many of the signs have been taken by urban explorers, one key piece of signage left shows how Bergen was abbreviated into Bergn. Urban explorer @Vic.Invades tells us of his experience down below: “The station was so cold to the point where you can see icicles frozen in time on the ceiling. You can also hear the civilians above you laughing and talking about whatever they experienced that day, while I lingered below in an empty, filthy, abandoned station. As I was down below there was a work train just sitting at the other end. You can’t really see it because it was above the incline that leads you into the station.”

9. The Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital Annex

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Naval Hospital Annex (or the Naval Annex) was built from 1830 to 1836. It was active through the Civil War, supplying almost a third of the medicine distributed to Union soldiers, and both World Wars until it was decommissioned in the 1970s. Some of the first female nurses and medical students were employed there. Dr. E. R. Squibb, the leading pharmaceutics inventor and part-name sake of the pharmaceutics company Bristol-Myers Squibb, developed the first anesthetic ethers for use in surgery.

It’s one of the few original buildings that remain at the Navy Yard. Steiner Studios, a major anchor tenant there, is working on transforming the space into a 420,000-square-foot media campus by 2027.

8. Jumping Jack Powerplant

The “jumping jack man.” Photo courtesy of Will Ellis, Abandoned NYC.

In an undisclosed location within Brooklyn lies the Jumping Jack Power Plant. Little is known about this towering abandoned building, which has over time become dilapidated and is now covered in layers of rust and dirt. The building’s first graffiti-ridden floor appears to have been a former chop shop, with a battered car now covered in spray paint residing there. This first floor also boasts many rickety staircases not suitable for climbing, but a rare passable staircase leads to the building’s main floor.

Once you reach the main floor, the view opens up to a four-story gallery of machinery. The steel pipes and beams, after what is most likely to be a century’s worth of aging, have turned to various shades of orange. It is within this area of the building that Jumping Jack gets its name: a configuration of steel beams stretching the four stories of the gallery create what looks to be a figure doing a jumping jack. The actual purpose of the Jumping Jack man remains a mystery. According to Will Ellis of AbandonedNYC, paper records found inside the building indicate that the last time the power plant was in operation was in 1963. Ellis believes that the building was open to trespassers for a number of years before being sealed up in the ’80s or ’90s, preserving an image of a “grittier New York.”

While readers might be wondering where this abandoned spot is and how they can get there, the precise location of Brooklyn’s Jumping Jack Power Plant has kept a closely guarded secret by all those explorers who have been able to locate it. To head Will Ellis’ warning, “‘Undiscovered’ or not, this place is still pretty under the radar, and I’d like to keep it that way for now.”

7. Loew’s 46th Street Theater

Balcony level - Loew's 46th Street TheaterThe main floor of the auditorium is now used as storage for a furniture store.

Located in Borough Park, Brooklyn, the Loew’s 46th St. Theatre was a movie palace that went through a few different cycles in its life from 1927 to 1973. It opened as the Universal Theater on October 9, 1927 to a huge, disorderly crowd of 25,000 people waiting for a spot in the 3,000-seat theater. Many even resorted to sitting on the fire escapes just to get a look at the beautiful interior.

Designed by renowned theater architect John Eberson, it was New York’s first “atmospheric theater.” Eberson’s design tried to emulate a starry, night sky over an Italian garden. Decorated with painted gold and a blue dome, the theater felt like an open-air auditorium with twinkling stars and other “atmospheric effects” being projected onto it. The rise of multiplex cinema in the ’60s caused the theater to fall into hard times and it eventually became a music venue, briefly becoming known as the “Brooklyn Rock Palace” where acts like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and the Byrds performed.

The theater has been closed since 1973, following community pressure regarding noise levels. The year after, it was sold to a furniture company whereupon significant changes were made on the interior, including the removal of the stage. The auditorium became a storage area for the furniture business, while the lobby became a show room.

6. Brooklyn Army Terminal

The Brooklyn Army Terminal, located in Sunset Park, was once the largest military supply base in the United States through World War II. Designed by Cass Gilbert, the architect of the Woolworth Building, the complex was completed in 1919, and remained in operation until the 1970s. In 1981, the federal government sold the site to city, which began leasing the property to businesses. A multi-decade renovation and reactivation of the terminal by NYCEDC has transformed it into a light manufacturing and office complex that is home to food startups, biotech companies, artist studios, and more. The grounds have been undergoing a savvy redesign by WXY Architecture with more welcoming outdoor space. This summer, Rooftop Films launched a drive-in movie on the terminal’s pier.

While many locations at the Brooklyn Army Terminal are no longer abandoned, there are still locations inside that remain in their raw state, including World War II towers on the roof, an abandoned admin building, a skybridge and more.

5. The Shore Theatre

View of the auditorium from the balcony. Image and writing by Matt Lambros: After the Final Curtain

The Shore Theatre opened as the Loew’s Coney Island Theatre on June 17, 1925. The 2,387 seat theater was built by the Chanin Construction Company, which was also known for the construction of the now demolished Roxy Theatre in Manhattan. Before opening, the theater was leased to the Loew’s theater chain. The Shore was designed in a Renaissance revival style by the Reilly & Hall architecture firm, who were proteges of famed theater architect Thomas W. Lamb.

Loew’s ended its lease in 1964, when it was taken over by the Brandt Company. The theater was then renamed Brandt’s Shore Theatre. A year later the Brandt Co. switched the theater to a live performance venue. They attempted to appeal to Brooklyn’s large Jewish population by presenting stage shows such as “Bagels & Yox.” When that failed to catch on they switched to burlesque shows before resuming showing motion pictures.

By the early 1970’s, the Shore had turned to exploitation and eventually adult films. The theater closed permanently in March of 1973. The seats on the main level were removed and the floor was leveled to convert the space into a bingo hall. The Shore Theatre facade was declared a historical landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on December 14, 2010. The inside of the theater is not landmarked, and could be demolished. In early 2016, developer Pye Properties purchased the site for $20 million with the ultimate goal of bringing back live entertainment and returning the venue back to its glory days.


4. Gravesend

Image courtesy Abandoned NYC

It seems like every square inch of New York City has been categorized, labeled, and filled beyond capacity. But if you know where to look on the fringes of the city, you can still find places without names. On the waterfront of Gravesend, Brooklyn, such a place still stands. It’s an all but untraveled wedge of vacant land, nestled between aging marinas and the northern border of Calvert Vaux Park on Bay 44th St. It’s a place we can only call “the secret park,” but there’s no mention of it on the department’s website. In its place, the all-knowing Google maps shows only a dull gray transected by the mysterious Westshore Avenue, though no such road exists.

The small peninsula was born out of the construction of the Verrazano Bridge in the 1960s when excavated material from the project was deposited on the shore of Gravesend Bay. Most of the new land was incorporated into the existing Drier-Offerman Park, but for some reason, this small finger of land was left out of the plan. Through the 1970s, it served as an illegal junkyard, but by 1982, developers came forward with a plan to construct a seaside residential development at the site. Apparently, the project never came to fruition. The city of New York suggests environmental remediation as a condition for future development.

We wager that it won’t be long before the development potential of the site is realized, but for the time being, the unkempt wilds of the secret park offer a rustic alternative to the paved walkways and manicured lawns of our city parks. If you’re ever looking to live off the land in New York City, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more suitable spot to pitch a tent.\

3. Gowanus Batcave

Image courtesy Abandoned NYC

Not long ago, a pack of teenage runaways lived the dream in the infamous Gowanus Batcave, shacking up rent-free in an abandoned MTA powerhouse on the shore of the notoriously toxic Gowanus Canal. Out of the grime, in back rooms and crooked halls, the artifacts of this sizable squatter settlement remain to enlighten, amuse, and unnerve the intrepid few that enter the disreputable interior.

The aimless individuals who lived here may have recognized themselves in the old Central Power Station of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, which had long since been cast aside by society, ceasing to be useful but retaining a proud exterior. Built in 1896 to serve a rapidly expanding subway system in the outer boroughs, its position on the banks of the Gowanus ensured an efficient intake of coal to power its arsenal of 32 boilers, which supplied eight 4,000 horsepower steam engine driven generators. The station’s technology couldn’t keep up with the times, and after a brief second life as a paper recycling plant, the powerhouse was abandoned. Today, it’s more commonly known as the “Batcave,” supposedly named for the creatures that once congregated in its broken-down ceiling.

The residents are long gone, but most of their humble furnishings remain. Some living quarters, fashioned in old corner offices of the power plant, are generously sized, complete with beds, bookshelves, and lounge chairs. Others are no larger than a closet; album covers, skulls and superheroes, and a general state of chaos are prominent features of these impromptu bedrooms.

It’s been a while since there was any update on the status of the infamous Gowanus Batcave, but with the rapidly changing landscape of the neighborhood, it was only a matter of time. The New York Times reported that the nonprofit Powerhouse Environmental Arts Foundation has plans in place this year to begin the transformation of the Batcave into The Powerhouse Workshop, an artist and manufacturing space. The project will be designed by the renown Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, most well-known for the Tate Modern in London but whose Jenga-like skyscraper in Tribeca, 56 Leonard, is probably their most recognizable New York City work. The Powerhouse Workshop had an anticipated opening date of 2020 but has been delayed.

2. Red Hook Grain Terminal

It’s been nearly fifty years since a freighter docked at the Red Hook Grain Terminal. now black mold overspreads its concrete silos like a mourning veil. Its origins can be traced to the construction of the New York State Barge Canal at the early 20th century, which widened and rerouted the Erie Canal to facilitate the latest advances in shipping. But by 1918, New York City was lagging behind in the nation’s grain trade and the canal was failing, operating at only 10% of its capacity. This now defunct facility was built in the Port of New York to invigorate the underused waterway—a state-run grain elevator in the bustling industrial waterfront of Red Hook, Brooklyn.

The structure is largely composed of 54 circular silos with a combined capacity of two million bushels. Grain was mechanically hoisted from the holds of ships, elevated to the top of the terminal, and dropped into vertical storage bins through a series of moveable spouts. When a purchase was made, the force of gravity would release the grain from the bins, at which point it was elevated back to the top of the terminal and conveyed to outgoing ships.

The collapse of the grain trade made up a small part of an overall decline along Red Hook’s industrial waterfront in the second half of the 20th century as shipping methods evolved and moved elsewhere. When the jobs dried up, much of the area cleared out, leaving a slew of vacant warehouses and decaying docks. In the year 2000, most of Red Hook’s 10,000 residents lived in the Red Hook Houses, one of the city’s first public housing projects. The development was a notorious hotbed for crack cocaine in the 80s and early 90s, but conditions have gradually improved over the years. A near complete lack of major subways and buses stalled gentrification in the neighborhood, but signs are becoming more common. Today, Van Brunt Street is scattered with specialty wine bars, cupcake shops, and craft breweries, and IKEA opened in 2007 on the site of a former graving dock.

The Grain Terminal has been the subject of a number of reuse proposals over the years, but none of the plans have amounted to real progress at the site. The building sits on the grounds of the Gowanus Industrial Park, which currently houses a container terminal and a bus depot, among other industrial tenants.

1. Domino Sugar Factory

The Domino Sugar Refinery, which dominated Brooklyn’s skyline and economy once upon a time, is an urban industrial landmark, built by Henry Havemeyer in the 1880s. It was once the main site of operations where sugar was filtered, panned and finished. The company moved its base to Yonkers in 2004, and the 3 million-square foot structure has been preserved, but unused ever since. Its exterior, located at 292-314 Kent Avenue, is an individual landmark.

When this article was published, the site had begun its redevelopment into rental apartments and offices. The former refinery is now the heart of a 6.6-acre waterfront park situated in the new mixed-use neighborhood, built by Two Trees Management.

Next, check out   and see 20 Abandoned Places in NYC: Asylums, Hospitals, Power Plants, Islands, Forts