The BKLYN 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, BKLYN Army Terminal is a fully functioning commercial/industrial complex that houses dozens of corporate tenants in a wide array of industries.
Built for Battle
BKLYN Army Terminal was commissioned by the federal government in March of 1918 to serve as a military depot and supply base. The massive five 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.
BKLYN 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 BKLYN 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.
BKLYN Army Terminal’s modern utilitarian style was markedly different from Gilbert’s previous work. Nevertheless, the structure has been recognized by modern architects the world over for its powerful aesthetic and highly functional form.
WWII and Elvis
BKLYN Army Terminal was most heavily trafficked during WWII, during which 56,000 military and civilian personnel were employed there. Over three million troops and 37 million tons of military supplies passed through the facility. Arguably the most famous soldier to deploy from BKLYN 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 BKLYN Army Terminal remained active through the early 1970s with both military and civilian tenants. New York City purchased BKLYN Army Terminal from the federal government in 1981 with the intention of restoring the complex to its intended use as a light manufacturing warehouse.
New York City Economic Development Corporation now manages the BKLYN 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 restored for use by a diverse mix of businesses.
TIMELINE: Investment & Development
The City purchased BKLYN 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 BKLYN Army Terminal has been transformed into a world class office and light manufacturing complex:
Today’s BKLYN Army Terminal: Flexible Business Spaces
The BKLYN 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
- Light Industry
- Textiles and Apparel