Judging from the images of the Navy Yard in its early history, the location was as much a tourist destination and an integral part of the local community as it was a military installation. It is not unusual to see throngs of spectators at celebrations and everyday scenes populated with strolling families and courting couples.
This image is part of a series of engravings produced for an 1870 article on the Navy Yard in Harper’s Monthly Magazine. The entire article can be seen here.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard was officially known as the New York Naval Shipyard for most of its history. George Washington evacuated to Manhattan through the Navy Yard area in 1776 after the lost Battle of Brooklyn and the infamous British prison ships were mostly moored here in Wallabout Bay.
Before we pass to another topic, we must give of this yet visible graveyard an episode that comes within our own knowledge. It is of an occurrence that happened in 1829, of a beautiful June day, namely, of the steam-frigate Fulton (the first steam vessel ever built for any government) being blown up by the vengeance of an exasperated sailor who fired the powder magazine, and caused the death of between forty and fifty persons. The writer of these paragraphs, then a boy of just ten years old, was at the public school, corner of Adams and Concord Street. We remember the dull shock that was felt in the building as something like an earthquake—for the vessel was moored at the Navy Yard.
Whitman recollections from Brooklyniana X
The Brooklyn Standard (1861)
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