Brooklyn Army Terminal

Brooklyn Army Terminal: A Historical Landmark and Modern Industrial Park

Brooklyn Army Terminal, also called BAT, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn is off the beaten track for most New Yorkers. I learned about it when I signed up to volunteer at Fabscrap. As I have since learned, Brooklyn Army Terminal is a large industrial complex over 97 acres that includes warehouses, offices, piers, docks, and cargo space. The terminal originally served as a military supply base during World War I and II, and the original structure has still been preserved, including a train line that runs right through it. Today, it is used as a hub for businesses, entrepreneurs, and working families in NYC.

History of Brooklyn Army Terminal

Brooklyn Army Terminal was built in 1918, and served as the largest military base for the US through World War II. It was designed by Cass Gilbert, who is very well known as the architect behind the Woolworth Building. The Terminal was built to serve as an intermodal rail and marine terminal to facilitate the movement of troops and supplies to Europe during World War I.

Brooklyn Army Terminal had among the world’s largest concrete structures when they were built. It has undergone multiple iterations, uses and ownership changes over the years, including a military prison and as storage for alcohol during the prohibition. It was acquired by New York City in 1981, and in 1983, Brooklyn Army Terminal was listed on listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today BAT has been repurposed into a modern industrial park, providing over 4 million square feet of commercial space for businesses within its 97 acre footprint, which include notable tenants like American Museum of Natural History (the place sure is big enough to store a dinosaur or two!), Guggenheim Museum,, Fabscrap, etc.

In addition to its military history, the Brooklyn Army Terminal also played a role in the Prohibition era. In 1926, the terminal was used as a storage facility for confiscated alcohol. The alcohol was then shipped to the Azores, where it was destroyed.

The terminal has also been used as a filming location for movies and TV shows, including “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Blacklist.” Even Elvis Presley filmed scenes for his movie “It Happened at the World’s Fair” at the terminal in 1963.

Buildings in the BAT Complex

The Brooklyn Army Terminal includes two 8-story warehouses, three piers, smaller buildings, 118 loading docks, and a train storage yard that can accommodate 2,200 train cars.

The two eight-story buildings have a total of 4 million square feet of building space.

For people coming in via ferry, it is connected to the ferry terminal through a footbridge which is on top of some very pretty arches.

The main complex has a Building A and a Building B, with massive loading docks in between, railroad tracks and all. There were cars going up and down on this road, so it doesn’t look like the railroad tracks are actually being used.

Building B Interior

Building B is one of the most notable buildings in the Brooklyn Army Terminal complex. The entrance to Building B is through what looks like a regular doorway, followed by a courtyard, which then opens up to a stunning atrium above an amazingly interesting structure, train tracks, train and all!

The train seemed to be decorative as it was all locked up, and the train tracks had an art installation. The structures on the side all had staggered balconies in what seemed to be warehouses, or office space, or a combination of both, and given this was a Saturday I could not tell just how many of these were actually inhabited. For the most part I was the only person inside this space till I got to the Fabscrap facility.

There was also what seemed to be the remnants of an art exhibit, or a valiant attempt at one that was now falling apart, on the train tracks.

There were also partial names of places on some of the walls on the sides, such as what i am assuming is Portugal and Balkans in the pictures below.

Getting to Brooklyn Army Terminal

Brooklyn Army Terminal occupies more than 95 acres between 58th and 63rd Streets west of Second Avenue, on Brooklyn’s western shore.

There are various options to get to BAT, including a ferry from Wall Street, buses and subways. From Manhattan, subway does seem to be the most convenient. However, keep in mind that if Google Maps directs you to the 63rd Street entrance, it is likely to be locked, and the other entrance is a full 5 blocks away on 58th Street.

The Brooklyn Army Terminal is an important part of New York City’s history and is a testament to the city’s role in the nation’s military history. The terminal’s distinctive architecture and historical significance have made it a popular tourist destination.

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Hi, I'm Hanit Gyani, a full time professional by day and a blogger by night and weekend. Welcome to my blog, aka my passion project, Gotta Love New York.

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