In the city of New York, it can often feel like only the privileged few get exclusive access to certain places and services that the rest of us could only imagine in our wildest dreams. Oftentimes, people who are not as lucky are usually left outside, faces pressed firmly to the glass, looking in with disdain to the people who were lucky enough to get in. I, along with the rest of my generation, have felt this FOMO. And it is real. And it is constant.
Open House New York (or OHNY, as the organization affectionately refers to it), which, for those unfamiliar, is a weekend-long annual event that allows visitors a rare chance to see hidden architectural buildings and perfectly preserved historical sites that are otherwise unavailable to the public.
OHNY was conceived under the idea of celebrating some of New York's best examples of historic and contemporary design and architecture by giving New Yorkers unparalleled access to these spaces and the artists behind them. At a time when much of the city was closing itself off, (especially since 9/11), OHNY offered a refreshing antidote: one that advocated for "openness and access" as part of its main mission. With more than 250 sites participating in all five boroughs, we chose to visit the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal in Bay Ridge.
Right from the beginning, what set the terminal apart was its sheer size. The massive four million square foot complex was built as a military supply base during WWII. The terminal, according to its website, was the "nerve center for the NY Port of Embarkation," which moved an estimated "3.2 million troops and 37 million tons of military supplies" during the war effort. (You can see one of the train transports in the photos emblazoned with the terminal's name.)
By the time the war ended, the terminal became home to both military and civilian tenants. Not long after that, the city of New York purchased the space with the intention of converting it into a manufacturing and industrial hub. Today, after much renovation, the terminal serves as a space for over 70 tenants and more than 2500 employees, representing a variety of industries from the arts to science and research.
As an homage to its military roots, we chose to highlight some pieces that carried a strong military influence, including the classic olive Army Field Jacket and sneakers made out of indigo-dyed Ventile fabric. Ventile is a 100% cotton, military-grade fabric specially developed to have highly weatherproof and water-resistant qualities.
Thanks to OHNY for allowing us to visit the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We would literally have not been able to see it had it not for this. Not only did we relive a piece of history, but more importantly, our FOMOs have been satisfied, even for just a weekend.