A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: The Brooklyn Navy Yard Park comes of age

From Obama to Noda, national leaders are trying to come up with new ways to cope with the realities of global competition, job creation and an aging industrial infrastructure. The Brooklyn Navy Yard can serve as a global model of entrepreneurship, job creation and sustainability.

Under the stewardship of the Brooklyn Naval Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), an historic military-industrial complex is getting a new life in creating jobs and stimulating economic growth right in Brooklyn harbor, just across from Manhattan. 

The historic waterfront, originally cultivated by American Indians, has played an important role since before the American Revolution. Commodore Matthew C. Perry oversaw the first Naval Lyceum here and many of America’s great naval ships were built here including the US Arizona (1915), which would later be attacked in Pearl Harbor by Japanese bombers in 1945. At its peak the Brooklyn Navel Yard employed 70,000 workers. After its official closing as a naval yard in 1966, the site was bought by the City of New York and turned in to an industrial park.

According to the web site, since the fall of 2006, Mayor Bloomberg and BNYDC announced an eight-building expansion including over 1.7 million square feet of new industrial space, 2,000 new jobs and $250 million private investment – the largest since post-WWII. 

Some examples of tenants include Capsys Modular Construction, which manufactures modular housing and focuses on sustainability and other green building and production methods. The more famous and one of the larger tenants in BNY is Steinier Studios – the ‘Hollywood of the East’, which employees hundreds of Brooklynites to work on the production of popular movies and sit coms including Saturday Night Live.

What is most impressive about the area is the dedication to sustainability, entrepreneurialism and innovation in an over reaching mission of job creation and urban industrial development. Efforts to create eco-friendly parking lots, energy efficient fuel use and people-friendly roads are resulting in a test area for how similar efforts can succeed in taking previously mothballed industrial parks and modernizing them for the future.

American’s politicians speak of job creation, the 99%, helping small and medium size businesses and the need to rebuild American strength. Obama and company should take a visit to Brooklyn. The trees are growing there nicely. But moreover, policy makers around the world should look at the lessons learned from New York’s urban planners as they formulate and execute policies to help revitalize old industrial parks and help create innovative urban growth.


(Image 1. Solar powered lamps line the streets of the Yard)

The tour I was given was dubbed: “The Brooklyn Navy Yard:  A National Model of Clean Industrial Re-Use – Who Knew?”. I would suggest a better title would be: The Brooklyn Navy Yard:  A Global Model of Clean Industrial Re-Use and Economic Rejuvenation – Who Knew?!

One area for improvement in the promotion of Brooklyn Navy Yard is a more active social media strategy to get the conversation and interest growing. An active Twitter feed or Facebook strategy for starters would amplify this story where the well intended web page and blog alone are not reaching. 


(Image 2. Entrance to Bldg 92 – Visitor Center)


(Image 3. Capsys Corp. putting together modular housing)


(Image 4. Brooklyn Navy Yard Dec 2011)

All photos – kurokojpn



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