The Brooklyn Army Terminal, formerly referred to as the ‘US Army Military Ocean Terminal’ or the ‘Brooklyn Army Base’ served as the largest military supply base in the US through WWII. Today, Brooklyn Army Terminal is a fully functioning commercial/industrial complex that houses dozens of corporate tenants in a wide array of industries.
Built for Battle
Brooklyn Army Terminal was a project begun by the federal government in March of 1918 to serve as a military depot and supply base. The massive four million square-foot complex was completed in September of 1919, built in just 17 months. This feat is impressive even by today’s standards, especially given the massive facility’s size.
Brooklyn Army Terminal’s utilitarian design was highly innovative for its time. The complex was constructed of girder-less, steel reinforced concrete slabs and included 96 centrally controlled push-button elevators, the largest elevator installation of its time.
The entire complex was interconnected, with three bridges on the third floor linking the two main building structures. The larger of the two buildings featured a huge skylight-enclosed atrium, and the smaller building was joined to the atrium by three covered piers.
An Architectural Feat
Cass Gilbert, best known for his Beaux Arts and Gothic building styles, was Brooklyn Army Terminal’s principal architect. Gilbert designed the US Custom House, the Broadway Chambers Building, the Essex County Courthouse and the highly acclaimed Gothic skyscraper, the Woolworth Building.
Brooklyn Army Terminal’s modern utilitarian style was markedly different from Gilbert’s best-known work. Nevertheless, the structure has been recognized by modern architects the world over for its powerful aesthetic and highly functional form.
WWII and Elvis
Brooklyn Army Terminal was most heavily trafficked during WWII, during which more than 20,000 military and civilian personnel were employed there. The Terminal was the headquarters and nerve center for the New York Port of Embarkation, a region-wide operation covering more than a dozen facilities that moved 3.2 million troops and 37 million tons of military supplies to fronts across the globe. Arguably the most famous soldier to deploy from Brooklyn Army Terminal was Elvis Presley. He greeted fans and a dozens of photojournalists in September of 1958 when he shipped off from Brooklyn to Germany.
From Military to Manufacturing
The Brooklyn Army Terminal remained active through the early 1970s with both military and civilian tenants. New York City purchased Brooklyn Army Terminal from the federal government in 1981 with the intention of repurposing the structure for manufacturing and industrial use.
New York City Economic Development Corporation now manages the Brooklyn Army Terminal complex and has carried out a phased renovation plan that began in 1984. Today, over three million square feet of space has been renovated for use by a diverse mix of businesses.
TIMELINE: Investment & Development
The City purchased Brooklyn Army Terminal from the federal government in 1981. Since then, millions of dollars have been invested to renovate millions of square feet of space. Find out how the Brooklyn Army Terminal has been transformed into a world class office and light manufacturing complex:
Today’s Brooklyn Army Terminal: Flexible Business Spaces
The Brooklyn Army Terminal currently functions as a secure, around-the-clock industrial warehouse and commercial complex with a multi-faceted mix of business types and sizes. Over 70 tenants and more than 2500 employees occupy the space, representing a variety of industries that include:
- The Arts
- Biotechnology and Research (BioBAT: The New York Science and Technology Center at Brooklyn Army Terminal offers affordable space for science and high technology research, laboratories and manufacturing)
- Light Industry
- Textiles and Apparel