Get a rare glimpse inside the Brooklyn Army Terminal

Get a rare glimpse inside the Brooklyn Army Terminal
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A hulking facility that helped usher in history is now part of a look back into the borough’s past.

A non-profit whose mission is to help New Yorkers appreciate the beauty and history of their surroundings is reintroducing the Brooklyn Army Terminal to those who don’t know about the giant building that once launched army supplies — and Elvis Presley — overseas.

The group is inviting the public to wander around the concrete behemoth on Oct. 6, with helpful guides eager to impart its historical significance.

“This building was build in just 18 months, which is unthinkable these days,” said building operations manager Carmine Giordano. “It was built for the military in World War I, but it didn’t make it [in time]. It was used for World War II. Stuff like radios and blankets were stored here and people were called to duty here.”

The Brooklyn Army Terminal was designed by famous architect Cass Gilbert, who also created the Woolworth building and some of the city’s early train stations. But it’s perhaps most famous for being the widely publicized point of departure for the King of Rock and Roll before he served in Germany in 1958.

“This building was cutting in its time,” said Ellen Ryan, executive director of OpenhouseNY. “It’s a telling legacy of the industrial past of the city.”

The building is one of hundreds of landmarks, public works, private houses, and offices that OpenHouseNY claims embody the architectural spirit of the city.

Brooklynites will also get special to access to other borough landmarks including Green-Wood Cemetery, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

OpenhouseNY is usually a small organization, but throughout the month of September, more than 700 volunteers help get ready for the annual event. When they first started ten years ago, the annual weekend was the organization’s only event, but it has now expanded to boat tours and walks throughout the year.

2012 OHNY Weekend at the Brooklyn Army Terminal (140 58th St. at First Avenue, ohny.org) 11 am–5 pm, Oct. 6.