Category Archives: brooklyn

Inside the Brooklyn Army Terminal

This past weekend I got the chance to go inside the monolithic Brooklyn Army Terminal in the Sunset Park industrial area. It was open as part of chashama’s open studios for GO Brooklyn (you can read about my experience with that on Hyperallergic), and although I had never been inside before, I had definitely read about it and seen beautiful photos of the space online. I also had researched its history as part of a piece on the South Brooklyn industrial waterfront for Brooklyn Based.

While it now has artist studios and offices in its complex, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, completed in 1919, is one of many warehouse areas that were built up during the two world wars of the 20th century. It was decommissioned in 1960 and the area has quieted down a lot, but there are still reminders of the past. Walking into the interior atrium of the Brooklyn Army Terminal’s Building B is transporting, taking you suddenly into a past when supplies for across the oceans would have been loaded by a massive crane onto trains on the two tracks below, then transported out to waiting ships that departed the harbor.

Here you can see the old crane. The squares on the sides are the old loading docks jutting out from each floor.

Here’s another angle up at the loading docks. You can see that the windows can open up on each floor, and the atrium above has actually long lost its glass and is open to the air. Although it wasn’t part of the original design, the walkway in the center between the tracks is covered now to protect from the elements.

I would love to come back during different seasons, or during a storm. It’s hard to see just how large the building is in these photos, but it’s sort of like a cathedral of industry. During World War II, the Brooklyn Army Terminal shipped out around 85% of the supplies and troops and personnel, meaning that some 38 million tons of equipment, and an astounding 3 million people left from the Brooklyn Army Terminal complex, which has 11 buildings including Building B.

Along the overgrown old tracks in the atrium are signs left over from when it was a military shipping center. You can see “Korea” scrawled above.

Here’s India.

Here’s Portugal and Azores. The supplies would be been lined up at each sign for each place.

Here is Africa and the “odd countries.”

And the Balkans.

Inside the floors is a little less time travel-y, but still good for some stark industrial photos.

I’ll end with some exterior views of the complex and the pier that goes out into the New York Harbor:

The Brooklyn Army Terminal is open whenever chashama is doing open studios, so stop by sometime! The artists are wonderful and the atrium is something everyone should see if they have the chance.

Photographs from Industrial Brooklyn

To coincide with a story I wrote for Brooklyn Based that came out today on the South Brooklyn industrial waterfront, I thought I would post some photos from my scouting expedition. Although I live just north of the industrial area, which is dominated by Bush Terminal and Brooklyn Army Terminal and bounded by the Gowanus Expressway and the harbor, I had never spent a morning just walking around the warehouses. It’s an odd place, at once peaceful and transporting to an earlier point in New York history (the area was at its peak with World War II), but also still busy with the constant roar of cars overhead and cluttered with the remains of current and past commerce. Here is your photo tour:

Many of the warehouses are now empty, and you can peak through open windows to the vast spaces inside.

Most of the buildings are painted an eggshell color, but this building at Bush Terminal is a sky blue.

The buildings form imposing canyons with reaches of sky.

Here is where the ferry docks. I wonder if I could take it somewhere?

Although used much less frequently, there are still train tracks to the warehouses. I’m not sure if these in particular are used. They seem a litte out of shape.

Here is an old train left on the tracks.

And here is a child’s toy kitchen left curiously on the pavement.

Some of the brick warehouses from when this was an area of waterfront commerce for Scandinavian immigrants still remain, although in disrepair.

My walk ended at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Considering at that point I had walked about 30 blocks, I decided to take the R train home.

February in the Heights

I recently made an expedition to the wilds of Brooklyn Heights for a story for Brooklyn Based, where I stopped by the former residences of Truman Capote and H.P. Lovecraft, and the legendary 7 Middagh where Auden, George Davis, Carson McCullers, and Gypsy Rose Lee lived with a rotating cast of bohemians. I thought I would share some Brooklyn Heights photos from the expedition, although it being February, it was a bit dreary. Still, the stately homes on the coast of Brooklyn (it’s technically a coast, right?) always make for a relaxing weekend stroll, and the esplanade overlooking the water with a view to Manhattan is always stunning.

Here is your photo tour:

169 Clinton Street, where HP Lovecraft once lived.

This Brooklyn Heights home at 58 Joralemon is actually a disguised entrance to a subway tunnel and is owned by the MTA.

Here is another view of 58 Joralemon, with all its windows blacked out.

Goat with a pipe? A long beard? A long tongue?

91 Remsen where Henry Miller lived.

View from the esplanade to Manhattan.

70 Willow Street where Truman Capote lived.

Oldest house in Brooklyn at the intersection of Midddagh and Willow.