After the fun journey of heading to JFK to see the TWA Flight Center, I traveled in the other direction and across town to Sunset Park to check out the other place I wanted to visit during the OHNY weekend. While OHNY events took place both days, these two sites were only open to the public on Saturday so I had no choice but to make another long journey to get from the outer reaches of Queens to the outer reaches of Brooklyn.
At my subway transfer point, I headed above ground for a quick lunch (at Shake Shack) and then hopped aboard one more train to reach my final destination, the Brooklyn Army Terminal.
OHNY has offered tours of the Terminal earlier this year, but those required reservations, paid tickets and taking a day off from work. I was so disappointed to have missed out on those tours so imagine my excitement when I saw it was listed as an Open Access site for thie weekend. Guided tours were being offered on the hour and I arrived just a few minutes after one began, so I just stayed at the edge and tried to listen and see what was going on. There were a lot more people there than I would have guessed; it was mid-afternoon and there weren’t many people loitering outside the building so I assumed most of the crowds showed up earlier in the day.
The guide (who works for Turnstile Tours) offered a brief history of the terminal, its usage during World War 2 and how it’s been repurposed to house businesses today. The most famous person to have passed through was Elvis Presley during the war, though he missed traveling with his group and booked a later passage to Germany because of all the press and publicity surrounding him.
As our guide rightly pointed out, what most of us really wanted to see was the Atrium.
It was a photo of this that initially sparked my interest in visiting the Terminal. Seeing old railway tracks and platform and even a train parked inside was enough to set my imagination running (I have a thing for old train stations, even one that never actually served as part of public transportation). Overhead, the glass panes from the ceiling have been removed for safety reasons (since maintenance and repair would be costly to the city) but the framework remains, and one can easily picture the glass still there.
There is a train sitting on a set of rails in the atrium but it’s not as old as it appears. The simple brown and yellow color scheme only makes it appear old but in actuality, the carriages were from an LIRR train. At one point, the idea had been to convert the cars into a dining area for the terminal but that plan was never completed so the carriages are now permanently parked inside the building since the other section of tracks have been removed or covered up to convert the area into the Atrium.
The tour itself lasted just under an hour and once it was over, everyone wandered around the Terminal, taking more photos of the Atrium and the balconies that jut out on the upper floors. I think some people headed upstairs to see what was there but I stayed on the ground level since things were far more interesting there. We were all inside Building B, which is just one building inside the much larger overall Brooklyn Army Terminal complex. There’s a lovely view of the ocean outside as well as pedestrian and ferry pier below.