Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brooklyn Navy Yard

Continuing on the tour of New York ruins, this weekend, as part of OHNY, I walked through the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the first time.

I caught a glimpse of the Admirals Row ruins through the trees. I had no idea they were right on the street. The demolition of these buildings was approved earlier this year, though many--like B.O.M.B. and MAS--are fighting to save them from becoming a parking lot and supermarket (no doubt a Whole Foods).

For an amazing tour of the crumbling interiors, check out Bluejake.

Inside the Yard, the first most impressive sight you come upon is Building 128, a machine shop dating back to 1899. It looks like an airplane hangar, with a vast interior surrounded by walls of windows, many of them broken. The building is wrapped in yellow Caution tape and the guards wave you away if you get too close, calling, "falling glass, falling glass." The building is slated for demolition.

Building 128 is endlessly fascinating. Its long flanks reveal its stripped anatomy--the pipes, fans, girders, and wheels that make up the guts of this rusted, metal giant. As the autumn sun sets, the whole place glows, mossy green and russet golden, like a barn in a wheatfield somewhere.

For a look inside, see Nathan Kensinger's excellent photos.

Though filled with many historic ruins, the Navy Yard is far from dead. It is home to office supply distributors, plumbing suppliers, printers, furniture designers, cabinet makers, and many more businesses. One of the oldest businesses still running here is Cumberland Packing, the makers of Sweet 'N Low--a fact proudly announced on a stained mural across from the Navy Yard entrance.

The factory was founded by Benjamin Eisenstadt in 1947 and remains in operation just outside the Yard. Inside the Yard, a familiar pink logo marks Cumberland's receiving annex. For an in-depth exploration of the Sweet 'N Low story, read the book Sweet and Low, by disinherited saccharine heir Rich Cohen.

Like many of the city's industrial areas, the Navy Yard also houses several artist studios. Tune in next time for a tour of those studios.

See all my Navy Yard photos here


AliceM said...

I like Whole Foods. Do you think they will build one?

Jon Glovin said...

I've been in there, but never with a tour.

Its one of my favorite places.

I think its terrible that those houses are probably gonna be torn down.

NYC Rhymology said...

A bit of Bklyn rhymology for the old sugar substitute: A tree grows/Sweet 'n' Low

Ken Mac said...

nice one. I did a whole series of night time shots from the Navy Yard a while back. and do check my admirals' row blog.

Brooklyn Ship Builder said...

I worked inside the Yard during the 1970's for Seatrain Shipbuilding. We built the largest ships ever to be built inside the Yard, the Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Stuyvesant and Bay Ridge. Visit www.BrooklynSteel-BloodTenacity.com
to view photographs I took while at work. The Brooklyn Historical Society has an extensive collection of photograpgs I took inside the Yard. Book; Brooklyn Steel-Blood Tenacity by Frank J. Trezza will take you into the world of shipbuilding inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the 1970's.

noel said...

I live up the street from the Sweet 'N Low factory in the late '80's. The land that time forgot. Is JJ's Navy Yard Bar still around?