A Crying Shame


I USED TO DRIVE by the Brooklyn Navy Yard and look through the iron gates at the abandoned Civil War-era row houses with mansard roofs, watching them fall into disrepair and wondering why no one was doing anything about it. I guess I assumed these buildings, onetime quarters for high-ranking naval officers and their families, would eventually be preserved and one day restored.


All along, a battle was raging between preservationists; local community development groups; the city, which has owned the Navy Yard (now an industrial park) since 2001; and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the houses, last occupied in the 1970s.

Late last week, Crain’s reported that 9 out of the 10 century-old buildings that comprise the historic Admiral’s Row will be torn down — to pave the way for a supermarket.

A SUPERMARKET?!?(?$*&^(%)#_@!!!!!  Surely the area needs a supermarket, but there?!!??

A National Guard study found that it would cost $25 million to restore Admiral’s Row. So what? That sounds like pocket change nowadays. Can’t they get some of the Federal stimulus money that’s being sprinkled around?

Why were the buildings allowed to deteriorate so? Is there any chance of appeal? If they had been developed privately (or publicly) as residential housing, might they have been saved?


More questions than answers. It’s a crying shame, and I guess, by my inaction, I was part of the problem.

The photos in this post are by Jake Dobkin of the Gothamist. For more of his evocative shots of Admiral’s Row in its current state of decrepitude, go here.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in BROOKLYN, HISTORIC PRESERVATION and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Crying Shame

  1. BrooklynGreene says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY and Happy Passover.

    Yes, the decrepitude of Admiral Row is really unbelievable…upsetting!!! I do think it would end up costing more than $25 million…but so what?!

    Those houses must have been very smart when they were first built and fitted out.

    Mme. Merle (sp?) in Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady was supposed to have been born there. If you haven’t read the novel in a while, pick it up again.

    You know how there are books you pick up 3 or 4 times over the years and can’t fathom or make your way through and then suddenly one day you pick up book again and a light goes on? And you read it voraciously?

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