American History to Good Eats and Drinks: Expect the Unexpected at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

May 30, 2019

Itching to get off the Island, but not looking forward to taking a hot, sticky subway ride just to stand on line with tourists? We are with you.

 

Whether you’re looking to soak up some history, spend some time on the water, or have some family fun, the Brooklyn Navy Yard has much to offer—and most of it won’t cost you anything. The NYC Ferry ride from Roosevelt Island to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, launched on May 20, takes a half an hour and makes for a fun day trip.

 

When you first land at Brooklyn Navy Yard, you are on pier 72. Walk straight (checking out the boats on your left) until you see Building 77. Building 77 offers public restrooms, a place to refill your water bottle, and food and drink. 

 

Russ & Daughters, known for bagels, lox and smoked fish (no line the day we went, a far cry from their Houston Street location) recently opened an outpost there. Urban farmhouse brewers, Transmitter Brewery, formerly of Long Island City, are now located there as well as weekly rotating food kiosks spotlighting some of Brooklyn’s best up-and-coming local businesses. Brooklyn Roasting Company also has a kiosk there.

 

If getting food at Russ & Daughter’s and eating it alongside a beer from Transmitter wasn’t your sole goal for the day, don’t worry, we have you covered.

 

BLDG 92 - the Marine Commandant's Residence

 

BLDG 92, built in 1858, was originally the Marine Commandant's residence. Now it contains three floors of exhibitions that tell the area’s history. Founded in 1801, the Yard served as one of America’s premiere naval shipyards for 165 years (1801 – 1966).

 

President John Adams (1797 - 1801) authorized the establishment of the first five naval shipyards, including the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

 

Ultimately, it launched America’s mightiest warships, including the USS Monitor, the USS Arizona, and the USS Missouri. Peak activity occurred during World War II, when some 70,000 people worked at the Yard. The Yard was in continuous operation until 1966, when it was decommissioned and then sold to the City of New York.

 

There are tours hosted in BLDG 92, including World War II and the yard, offered this weekend, that explores connections between the Yard and famous battles of World War II, and visits sites of significance that remain from this era, including the former ship assembly shops and the historic Dry Dock 1. When Brooklyn Was Queer, to be held on June 22 culminates at the Kings County Distillery’s Sands Street Gatehouses, a street once known for its bars and nightlife that provided rare spaces for expression of queer identities.

 

Sign up for a tour of the distillery for $16 that will include the history, culture, and science of distilling whiskey plus a tasting.

 

They also have fun free events coming up like Story Time and Future Saturdays: Farm to Fork, to teach healthy and sustainable living and eating practices. The yard is home to one of the city’s largest rooftop soil farms.

 

Rip’s Malt Shop

 

As co-owner of Rip's Malt Shop, Erick Castro, explained, there has always been a lunch spot at 10 Clermont Avenue. To complement the new community at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Rip’s is a vegan comfort food luncheonette. Their menu is replete with all of the goodies you would expect, including burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and ice cream sundaes. It’s all vegan, and for those of us who do eat meat, you’d never miss it.

 

Pro Tip: They have a Boylan’s Soda Fountain. If you order an ice cream float, (you should do this), the soda is bottomless.

 

Fort Greene Park

 

Fort Greene Park, a 30.2 acre park located a short walk from the Yard includes part of the high ground where the Continental Army built fortifications prior to the Battle of Long Island, fought on August 27, 1776, the first major battle of the American Revolutionary War. In troop deployment and combat, it was the largest battle of the entire war.

 

The 30.2-acre park was named after a fort formerly located there, Fort Putnam. It was renamed Fort Greene in 1812 for Nathanael Greene, a hero of the American Revolutionary War, (though he did not take part in the Battle of Long Island).

 

After the fort's military use had waned, poet Walt Whitman, then the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, advocated for reclaiming the space for use as a public park.  In 1867, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also designed Central Park and Prospect Park, prepared a plan for the redesign of the park, the name of which name was changed to Fort Greene Park.

 

Adorn Me

 

Adorn Me, located at the entrance to the park at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Washington Park is an eight foot by 15 foot sculpture by artist Tanda Francis. Unveiled last August it was presented by the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, Art in the Parks, and Uniqlo Park Expressions Grant. Adorn Me will be on view through August 2019.

 

“I was compelled to do Adorn Me to speak directly to the African American community which often goes unrepresented in public art,” said Francis.

 

Prison Ship Martyrs Monument

 

Visible from all four corners of the park, the 149 foot Doric column crowned with a 20 foot bronze earn beckons. In 1908, the the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument was completed along with a plaza and stairs leading up to it.

 

After the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776 — the first major battle of the American Revolution — nearly 12,000 men and women of diverse nationalities were captured by the British and detained on prison ships where they were subjected to dire conditions, ultimately succumbing to disease, fatigue, and malnourishment.

 

Ultimately, their bodies were thrown into the East River. Brooklyn residents then buried the remains of their neighbors, friends, and family in shallow graves along the shore near what would become the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

 

Though the bodies were eventually transferred to a tomb on the property of a local farmer, widespread sentiment persisted amongst the villagers to find a proper, public resting place more appropriately commemorating a spectacular tribute to American Independence. 

 

 

Fort Greene Park Visitor’s Center

 

Even the Visitor’s Center at Fort Greene park is landmarked. Built at around the same time as the Martyr’s Monument, the classically inspired little temple boasts high clerestory windows and a series of classical columns flanking the entrances.

 

At the visitor’s center, people can learn about Fort Greene’s role in the Revolutionary War, and about the brave Americans who died defending their new nation.

 

Events

Events at the park include yoga, bird walk and outdoor markets as well as movies and music.  

 

Coming Soon

 

Wegman’s, the Rochester based grocery store chain best known for array of take-home meals, some of which were created with help from celebrity chef David Bouley, is opening its first New York City location at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and will open its doors at 7:00am on October 27.

 

The 74,000-square-foot supermarket will be located at Admiral’s Row, along Flushing Avenue, the site of former officer’s housing.  

 

 

 

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