The Brooklyn Navy Yard played a pivotal role in World War II, building battleships and aircraft carriers, repairing over 5,000 ships, and sending troops and supplies to fronts across the globe. Not only did the Yard construct the USS Arizona a generation before the war, which was sunk at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, but it is also where the battleship Missouri was constructed, where the instrument of surrender ending the war was signed in 1945. Thanks to the efforts of its 70,000 workers, the Brooklyn Navy Yard became the world’s busiest shipyard, earning the nickname “The Can-Do Yard” for its ability to patch up wounded ships and put them back in action.
This tour examines the role of the New York City waterfront in the war effort, explores connections between the Yard and famous battles of World War II, and visits sites of significance that remain from this era, including the former ship assembly shops, the Yard’s headquarters at Building 77, and the landmark Dry Dock No. 1. Throughout the tour, you will listen to clips of oral histories recorded with sailors and ship workers who were at the Yard during the war, including from women working in industrial jobs, and from people of color, for whom the war presented both challenges and new opportunities. This tour aims to evoke a sense of what the Yard was like during the war – a place of tremendous energy, innovation, and achievement, but tempered by terrible loss.