Through the American Revolutionary War, the conflict which gave birth to our nation, France had been an ally of the United States. However, that was the now dethroned French monarchy. America owed France debts from the war, but President John Adams resisted paying because the new French Government was not the one who had lent money to the U.S.
To make a long story very short. France began seizing American flagged ships at sea to collect its money by force. In response, President Adams initiated a program meant to rapidly deploy a capable naval force to defend America’s merchant ships. Thus, the plan was to build shipyards in Washington, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York.
The New York Shipyard later came to be known as the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Created in 1801, the Brooklyn Navy Yard remained active building ships until 1966. No longer considered essential by the Defense Department under then-President Lyndon Johnson, it was shut down and sold to the City of New York. The city then converted it into an industrial park with limited success.
The Navy Yard coasted along through the next forty years of its existence. Never coming near the levels of employment it had generated at its apex during World War II when it operated around the clock building and repairing naval vessels. During that time the Brooklyn Navy Yard earned the nickname “The Can-Do Shipyard.”
Nowadays there is a whole new ethos and vibe taking hold at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Like much of New York City the Navy Yard has experienced a revival. New tech entrepreneurs have set up shop on the 225-acre grounds. Today the buildings which were once used to build some of the most powerful warships ever devised are now being used to produce television shows and movies, as in the case of Steiner Studios. Then there are companies like Brooklyn Grange which has developed a system of rooftop farming. The current focus of the Brooklyn Navy Yard is shifting to clean, renewable, and sustainable industries.
It is very encouraging, which is why I recommend that you make a day trip out to visit the Brooklyn Navy Yard and participate in a tour. The Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at Building 92 (an address inside the Navy Yard) conducts tours of the historic industrial park on Saturdays and Sundays. The two-hour visit involves a bus ride through the navy yard with frequent stops where you will walk around the grounds for a closer look. The tour guides are very knowledgeable. At the conclusion of the tour, you will know a lot more about the history of the Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York City, and America. It is an excellent experience. I highly recommend it.
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Click on this moovit link for directions to the Brooklyn Navy Yard via public transit.