From hosting complainers during Fashion Week to being declared a national landmark, the Brooklyn Navy Yard has been getting plenty of hype lately. But unless you work here or live in the surrounding neighborhoods, chances are good you haven’t ventured to this pocket of our borough. Not unlike… almost all of Brooklyn, the Navy Yard has changed drastically in recent years. Once one of the most active military shipbuilding sites in the U.S. all the way back to the days the Revolutionary War, the Navy Yard is now a vast, urban industrial park dedicated to sustainability. It’s home to almost 330 widely diverse businesses which employ over 7000 people. Though non-employees can’t always access the secure confines of the yard, there are still plenty of opportunities to explore it! We’ve compiled a list of things you should do and see in the Yard, as well as just a sampling of the awesome work from this hotbed of creativity and innovation.
Brush Up on History at The Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92
Arguably the best place to start learning about the Brooklyn Navy Yard, BLDG 92 celebrates the yard’s past, present, and future. The museum here features exhibitions that share the history of the Yard as well as showcase the work of modern day makers. Extensive historical archives of the Yard are available for researchers, and they have lots of interesting public programs. Admission is f-r-e-e! If you’ve worked up an appetite while absorbing so much knowledge, hit up the building’s Ted & Honey’s Cafe outpost — it has a balcony with great views of the Navy Yard and the city.
Let Turnstile Tours Show You Around
In partnership with BLDG 92, Turnstile Tours offer a range of tours that look into the Navy Yard’s history as well as the various industries it supports. Some of their interest-specific tours include a look at the Navy Yard’s significant role in WWII, insight on sustainable architecture and urban ecology, seasonal photography tours, and more! The tours are available by bus or bicycle, but in the summer, how could you not do it by bike?
Check Out Historic (and spooky) Admiral’s Row
Along the of the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Flushing Ave. near Navy St. is a mysterious stretch of dilapidated mansions. Admiral’s Row, once home to naval officers, fell into disastrous disrepair when they were abandoned in the 1970s. Some of the buildings date back to the Civil War, and the crumbling, vine-covered architecture remains hauntingly beautiful. In recent years, the Navy Yard has made a few failed attempts to find a developer to demolish the site and transform it into a supermarket, but now the plans have finally come to fruition with the Wegmans that’s being built there. So get there and check out the houses before they’re gone.
Tour and Taste at Kings County Distillery
Drink local at NYC’s oldest operating whiskey distillery! Kings County Distillery, part of the Brooklyn Spirits Trail, crafts handmade spirits at the 115-year-old Paymaster Building here in the Navy Yard. Their inventory includes moonshine, bourbon, and chocolate whiskey…mmm. The distillery hosts tours and tastings every Saturday afternoon for $8, and their wares can be found at watering holes throughout the metro area.
With the temperature rising, so is the demand for BBQ. The distillery heeds your call for smoked meats and now has a backyard space (open from 4pm to 10pm Fridays and 2pm to 10pm on Saturdays) where you can drink your honey whiskey while awaiting the ribs your stomach demands.
Support Sustainability at Brooklyn Grange
Brooklyn Grange‘s 65,000 sq. ft. rooftop farm at Building 3 is the largest rooftop farm in the world. The Navy Yard is also the site of Brooklyn Grange Bees, the city’s first and largest commercial apiary. Their breathtaking rooftop farm is open to the public for various events throughout the season (read: sunset yoga on the roof on Mondays and Pilates on Wednesdays), so be sure to keep an eye on their website and Facebook to see when you can get a chance to check it out! The Grange has a seasonal CSA program and their delicious veggies, herbs, hot sauce, and honey are available at their weekly summer farmstand, dates TBA.
Drink Wine on a Hammock.
The first rooftop winery in all of New York City is in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Rooftop Reds not only sells wine, but grows the grapes that make up the wine on their 14,000 square foot rooftop. They have developed their own “urban planter system” and this summer, plan on hosting hosts various events including cheese tasting and educational tours. Come for the wine, stay for the scenery and their “hammock happy hour,” which they’re planning on starting this summer on Wednesdays through Fridays. You get to drink wine, on a hammock, on a rooftop! Doesn’t get any more Brooklyn than that.
Walk Around to catch Dope Street Art
Right next to the Navy Yard, but off the beaten track enough that it’s almost a secret to most who hang around, there is an art gallery with a very distinct entrance. Pandemic Gallery (22 Waverly Avenue) is known for having big openings, with its art gallery/studio space being filled with fellow artists and art enthusiasts. When it isn’t open you can still check out the outside of the gallery, which has a large collaborative mural featuring both local and international street artists coming together to create something you can Instagram.
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