Brooklyn has become the de facto borough of entrepreneurship, creativity and a growing DIY ethos. It’s a place where design studios run rampant and everyone seems to be pursuing some creative aspiration – whether it’s starting an online marketplace for curly hair products or creating videos about bike messengers. The borough is abuzz with ingenuity and industry and nowhere is this more apparent than behind the looming gates of the Brooklyn Army Terminal.


The History of the Brooklyn Army Terminal

Spanning 95 acres across the waterfront in Sunset Park, the Brooklyn Army Terminal was built in 1919, serving as an important military and supply base. It was designed by Cass Gilbert, the renowned architect of the Woolworth Building and was completed just 17 months after construction began. The complex encompasses 4 million square feet. Once completed, it was the world’s largest concrete structure.

Wartime at the Brooklyn Army Terminal

During World War II, the Brooklyn Army Terminal was the deployment site for 3.2 million troops and 37 million tons of supplies. The most famous soldier to deploy from the terminal was Elvis Presley, who shipped out in 1958 — more than a decade after WWII ended.

The terminal had its own railroad line which pulled into a skylight-covered atrium in the central courtyard of the terminal’s main building. From here soldiers and supplies were dispatched around the world.

Industry, Innovation and Art at the Brooklyn Army Terminal

During peacetime, the complex served as a temporary home to the USPS. In 1981, the terminal was purchased by the city and converted into an industrial park. It now house over 100 commercial tenants and nearly 4,000 employees. Tenants range from the Brooklyn’s beloved chocolatier, Jacques Torres to the New York City Bioscience Initiative center to fledgling start-ups, fashion designers and fine artists. In 2015, an art installation piece titled “Post-War Blues” took over the atrium. The community-produced installation piece stitches together a 300-foot floral design made from recycled plastic yarn.

The complex continues to grow due to a $100M pledge from the Mayor’s office. Almost a century after it was first built, the Army Terminal has renewed purpose and is reshaping Brooklyn’s creative and commercial landscape.