The Brooklyn Navy Yard is a 300-acre gated complex of warehouses, machine shops and former warship docks surrounding Wallabout Bay on the East River. Decommissioned in 1966, the Navy Yard has been rehabbed as an industrial park for Brooklyn entrepreneurs, artists and film and television studios. It’s surrounded by the neighborhoods of Vinegar Hill, Fort Greene, Wallabout (sometimes considered Clinton Hill’s territory) and Williamsburg — and a fence. Unless you’re authorized personnel, the only way to explore is to book a tour.
Wallabout Bay, a cove off the East River, was one of the first settlements of the Dutch “Brueckelen” colony, as well as the site of the first ferry landing and trading port between Brooklyn and Manhattan. In 1801, the United States government bought the land and began construction on the Navy Yard. It was here that the first steam-engine navy vessel The Fulton Frigate was built, as well as a series of warships named after states (USS Ohio, USS Connecticut, USS Arizona, USS Maine and so on).
Visitors can explore the history of the Navy Yard and learn about its current tenants at BLDG 92 (Carlton and Flushing Avenues). Its exhibits include warship models and maritime artifacts, such as cannons and anchors. BLDG 92 also sponsors bike, bus, factory and photography tours. If you only have time for a quick stroll, diamond-shaped cutouts in the fence along Flushing Avenue between Navy Street and North Elliot Place offer glimpses of the Second Empire–style former naval officers’ residences of Admiral’s Row.
During the day, most of the activity outside the Navy Yard is neighborhood kids playing basketball on the courts along Flushing Avenue and production trailer traffic coming in and out of Steiner Studios, New York’s largest film and television studio. The Ted & Honey café in BLDG 92 is open for breakfast and lunch. For more dining options, walk south to nearby Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene. The York Street stop on the F line in DUMBO is the closest subway station.