“Cemetery Landscape” Opens in Navy Yard by Arthur Mallet

Walk along the southeast side of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and you are unlikely to have a sense of tranquility.  The combination of the BQE overhead and the perpetual traffic on Williamsburg Street West makes it a cacophonous mess of exhaust and road rage. 

But now there is relief! Last week a 1.7 acre public space was opened on the site of the former Naval Cemetery for the Brooklyn Naval Hospital. Over 2,000 Navy and Marine Corps officers were buried at this site while it was an active cemetery between 1834-1910. The graves have since been relocated to nearby Cypress Hills National Cemetery. The new space includes a simple walkway with places for contemplation amidst the natural habitat. The project is one of many undertaken by the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI), which is dedicated to creating “green spaces” and bike accessibility along the Brooklyn waterfront.  They have another project underway in the Columbia Waterfront District, right by Realty Collective headquarters.

This new park space is the latest in a flurry of changes to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which had long been inaccessible to the public.  After the Navy shut down their operation in the 1960’s it was used for commercial shipping.  Gradually, more and more companies began to operate within the campus including Brooklyn Grange farms, Steiner Studios and Ice Stone, a counter top manufacturer that uses recycled glass.  I had the pleasure of touring the Ice Stone factory a few years ago when my parents used their material in their house.  Brooklyn Brewery and King’s County Distillery have also moved in, and both are set to open up public tasting rooms.  Building 92 is a museum dedicated to the history of the Navy Yard, which gives public tours.  For years, Brooklyn residents have peered over the walls at the crumbling mansions on Admiral’s Row and the large industrial buildings along Flushing Avenue.  It’s exciting to see the Navy Yard open up to the public at last.

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