Brooklyn Army Terminal is Cass Gilbert’s monumental all-concrete intermodal warehouse, rushed to completion for World War I. Also known as the US Army Military Ocean Terminal or the Brooklyn Army Base, it was the largest concrete building, when built, and also the largest military terminal in the U.S. As a strictly utilitarian facility, the buildings totally lack the lavish ornamentation of Gilbert’s Beaux Arts and Gothic masterpieces.
Although completed too late to play a role in WWI, the five-million-square-foot terminal moved three million troops and 37 million tons of military cargo during WWII.
The terminal continued to operate through the cold war, as a supply base for U.S. troops in NATO. The most famous soldier to “ship out” from Brooklyn was Elvis Presley, in 1958. But after Elvis left the building, things were pretty quiet until the ’70s, when the Army itself shipped out. New York City bought the Brooklyn Army Terminal in 1981 and began converting it to civilian use in 1984, a process that is still continuing.
Like other industrial parks, Brooklyn Army Terminal is closed to the general public, but Turnstile Tours now has twice-monthly weekend guided tours of the facility.
(Many thanks to Corey William Schneider and the New York Adventure Club, the Facebook-based group that arranges explorations of lesser-known attractions throughout the city’s five boroughs.)
Brooklyn Army Terminal Vital Statistics
- Location: 140 58th Street, Sunset Park
- Year completed: 1919
- Architect: Cass Gilbert
- Floors: 8
- Style: Brutalist
- National Register of Historic Places: 1983
Brooklyn Army Terminal Recommended Reading
- Wikipedia entry
- The New York Times About Real Estate; New Project at the Brooklyn Army Terminal (December 28, 1988)
- BKLYN Army Terminal website
- New York Daily News Brooklyn Army Terminal opening up for tours of the 95-year-old Sunset Park military depot (September 14, 2013)
- Scouting New York blog
- Trainweb.com blog (historic site map)
- Turnstile Tours tour information