At the close of the eighteenth century the Remsen estate, situated on Wallabout bay and comprising thirty acres of land and thirty-five acres of pond, were purchased together with the bay, mill, and dwelling house by John Jackson from the previous Dutch owners for the sum of $17,000. Jackson established a shipbuilding concern on the land adjacent the bay, and in 1801 the new American government purchased it, along with a 40 acre parcel, for the purposes of a navy yard.
Up to 1833 the number of men employed in the Yard averaged only a few hundred. Thereafter a few large vessels were built, but the Yard was chiefly devoted to repairing purposes, and up to the outbreak of the Civil War relatively few ships were turned out. The burst of activity which followed 1860 resulted in the production of no less than twenty-three vessels, including the ill-fated Maine.
The dual ship sheds seen in this view from the early 1850s were a familiar sight along the river and even from many parts of town. A slightly later depiction of the ship shed interior is shown below.
Inside a Navy Yard ship shed, 1870s.
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