Day 794

Brooklyn Army Terminal, Building B

March 3rd, 2014

The Brooklyn Army Terminal, designed by Cass Gilbert, the architect of the Woolworth Building, was completed in 1919. The larger of its two main buildings features this stunning, formerly skylight-enclosed atrium. (Here's a beautiful shot of the atrium taken in 1949 by Andreas Feininger.) The reddish bridge-looking thing spanning the opening between the two sides of the building is part of an old traveling overhead crane that was used to load and unload the trains that once pulled in here; the staggered balcony arrangement provided the crane unobstructed vertical access to each floor. (Compare to the Hasidic Sukkot balconies we've seen previously.)

Currently redeveloped for commercial and light industrial use, the Brooklyn Army Terminal (formerly known as the Brooklyn Army Base) was supposedly the country's largest military supply base during World War II. I've read several claims that it was the point of departure for some 80% of American troops and supplies during the war, but I don't think that's true. The highest estimate of the number of WWII soldiers shipped out from here that I've seen is 3.2 million, and, as best I can tell, some 7.3 million soldiers in total were deployed overseas during the war. (The corresponding numbers for supplies are 37 million measurement tons and 127 million measurement tons.) So 80% seems like a highly exaggerated figure, but it's still pretty amazing to think that almost half of the US soldiers sent overseas during the war may have passed through this facility.

But let's do away with the uncertainties. There is one undisputed, and quite well documented, fact that I can share with you on the subject of troop deployments from the Brooklyn Army Base: On a late September day in 1958, a Private Elvis Aron (or was it Aaron? OK, that part's kind of disputed) Presley arrived here by train en route to an Army installation in Friedberg, Germany, where he would serve for the next 17 months before returning to civilian life.


  1. MJO says:

    That 1949 photo is truly stunning!

  2. Mel says:

    And, in July 1955. my father and family passed through there on the way to his last assignment in Germany.

Leave a Reply