The former Naval Hospital Cemetery had been behind a fence, inaccessible to the public since it was decommissioned in the 1920s and the known remains were removed to Cypress Hills.
The site has now come out from behind the fence as a new open space along the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. This site has been designed as a natural area populated exclusively by native plant species and will provide visitors with an escape from urban life.
Located on the eastern edge of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and accessed from the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway at Williamsburg St West between Kent and Flushing Avenues.
- B57/B62Bus to Flushing Av/Classon Av (2 min walk)
- B48 Bus to Wallabout St/Wythe Av (5 min walk)
- J/M/Z Train to Marcy Ave (11 min walk)
- G train to Flushing Ave (13 min walk)
Hours of Operation
- Winter Hours:
Saturday & Sunday
10:00AM – 4:00PM
Design & Nature
The entrance to the Naval Cemetery Landscape acts as threshold to a wildflower meadow and sacred grove, framed by an undulating boardwalk and lifted above the hallowed ground. This experience evokes the histories of settlement and cultivation, life and death, while slowing the heart rate and connecting visitors with the stories of the site. The wildflower meadow, with more than fifty species of native plants, offers much needed fodder for the pollinators critical to the ecological health of the region. Initially established in a strict geometric arrangement, the plantings will eventually drift across the site, creating new patterns and establishing a self-sustaining, ‘open-ended’ ecology intended to draw people, birds, moths and bees in a rich celebration of life.
Yoga in the Garden
Join BGI every select Thursdays from 6:30-7:30pm for free outdoor yoga on the elevated boardwalk of the Naval Cemetery Landscape. Brought to you by Nature Sacred, Root to Rise Yoga and Brooklyn Greenway Initiative.
July 5th & 19th
August 2nd & 16th
September 6th & 20th
October 4th & 18th
The class will draw from the vinyasa and hatha yoga traditions and will use breath and movement to achieve meditation and relaxation.
Classes are suitable for all experience levels and will include postures and breathing techniques that promote balance, strength, and flexibility of body and mind. Just remember these classes are BYOM (Bring your own Mat).
About S. Cecilia Zuniga:
Cecilia draws inspiration from various healing modalities and traditions to create a wellness experience that is in accordance to the energetics for a given time and season. Contingent on the style, a typical class will integrate alignment based vinyasa Yoga, Ayurveda, women’s practice’s, Chinese medicine and Reiki.
Be it a yoga class, an art project, or a way of life, Cecilia has always been inspired by ritual, the esoteric and nature. She credits her upbringing in magical and enchanting places such as New Mexico & Mexico.
In addition to being a yogini, Cecilia is a wellness content creator by day. She is completely immersed and surrounded in the wellness industry. Her background is in design, arts and technology. A classic “ENFP”, she is a people-centered creator with a focus on possibilities and a contagious enthusiasm for new ideas, people and activities.
Find out more here!
About Root To Rise Yoga:
Root To Rise Yoga are believers in making yoga accessible, welcoming and comfortable for all people—and have a special penchant for leveraging yoga for community-building.
- B57 Bus to Flushing Av/Classon Av (2 min walk)
- B62 Bus to Flushing Av/Classon Av
- B48 Bus to Wallabout St/Wythe Av (5 min walk)
- G train to Flushing Ave (13 min walk)
Teletextile Sound Bath: Sonic Meditation
Join BGI select Thursdays from 6:30-7:30pm for free Sound Bath Meditation on the elevated boardwalk of the Naval Cemetery Landscape.
Teletextile Sound Bath
Teletextile presents a sound bath experience led by Pamela Martinez and collaborator Alex Beckman. Be lulled into deep relaxation using the sounds of singing bowls, gong, harmonium, vocals, and other sound sources to provide you with a meditative and healing environment. Lay down and enjoy. These Sonic Meditations provide a way in for deep vibrational healing of the mind, body and spirit.
Sound Bath Benefits:The body needs time to relax and rejuvenate. Research has confirmed that even listening to certain music can effectively and rapidly elicit the relaxation response and bring about chemical, hormonal, and cellular change that actively promotes healing. When our parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated [via our vagus nerve] by soothing sounds, we are sending a message of calm and relaxation to every part of our body. So when we say that something is “music to our ears,” it’s actually so much more. It’s a massage for every organ in the body. (Silvia Nakkach, Free Your Voice)
Classes are held at the Naval Cemetery Landscape. Enter at Williamsburg St West between Kent and Flushing Avenues.
B57/B62Bus to Flushing Av/Classon Av (2 min walk)
B48 Bus to Wallabout St/Wythe Av (5 min walk)
J/M/Z Train to Marcy Ave (11 min walk)
G train to Flushing Ave (13 min walk) or Classon Ave (10 min walk)
About The Instructors
Pamela Martinez is a reiki master, educator, multi-instrumentalist and composer who creates music under the moniker Teletextile. Her “Bjork-like” sound (The Boston Globe) moves from vocal layering and “electronic wizardry” (Metronome Magazine) to “dense, stormy guitar, piano and electronics” (Time Out New York). Martinez has toured extensively in the US, Europe, the UK and Asia. As a genre-hopping performer and musician, Martinez has performed violin at Carnegie Hall with a Carnatic Indian music ensemble, sang in San Francisco’s historic Fillmore Theater and takes part in extravagant performance art happenings in New York City. Her most recent directing and performing credits include, Whisperlodge. The New York Times dubbed Whisperlodge “an unusual mix of theater and therapy” and has been featured in BuzzFeed, The Atlantic and more with acclaim. At home in Brooklyn, Martinez passes on the craft of music to her community by teaching violin, voice, piano, guitar, music theory and sound healing to all ages and levels of students privately and at community education centers including Brooklyn Music School and the Maha Rose Center for Healing.
Alex Beckmann is a lover of sound, a producer, drummer and composer. As a drummer Alex has toured with various artists around North America, the Middle East, and South Africa, and has played major festivals such as Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. As a producer he writes and performs electronic music under the name MMBLR. A fascination with sound healing and sound meditation has led Alex to study various techniques and instruments including tuning fork Biosonics with John Beaulieu and Gong Yoga with Don Conreaux. He looks forward to sharing what feels like just the beginning of his journey with sound and music.
Turnstile Tours - Urban Ecology Tour
Discover the natural world in the midst a thriving urban industrial park on this 2-hour tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard led by Turnstile Tours.
Explore New York City’s waterways, terrestrial ecosystems and urban farms. Explore the Naval Cemetery Landscape, visit the stunning 65,000-square-foot Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm, visit an oyster restoration project led by students from the New York Harbor School and explore planned and unplanned natural landscapes of the Yard, including the landscape architecture surrounding BLDG 92, identifying native and exotic plant species along the way. This tour will reveal that the natural world truly is all around us, even in the heart of the city.
For more info and to book a tour:
City Growers Urban Ecology Program
Urban Ecology is a two-workshop learning series designed to empower children in Brooklyn to see themselves as instruments of environmental change. Students learn how to create and sustain pollinator pathways through native plant restoration. Both workshops take place at the beautiful and historic Brooklyn Naval Cemetery Landscape Site, a native plant haven managed by Brooklyn Greenway Initiative.
The first Urban Ecology workshop focuses on important pollinators, the native plants that provide forage through the seasons, and invasive, non-native plants that threaten our urban ecosystem. The second workshop focuses on the honeybee colony, a non-native superorganism that supports native plants through excellent pollination skills. Hands-on, interactive learning activities increase students’ environmental literacy about ecology, native plants, and pollinators. Students weed invasive plants in the Naval Cemetery Landscape Site, and take native plant seeds back to school to propagate and transplant. Urban Ecology gives students the knowledge and tools they need to support biodiversity in Brooklyn, and to act as stewards of our urban environment.
The former Brooklyn Naval Hospital Cemetery is located in the southeast corner of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Established on the shores of Wallabout Bay, the Navy Yard served as America’s premier Naval shipbuilding facility from 1801 until 1966. Today the 300-acre industrial park is owned by the City of New York and managed by the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC).
In 1824, the Navy purchased nearby land to build the Brooklyn Naval Hospital, which included the cemetery site. Opened in 1838, the Hospital became a leading center of medical innovation, developing new techniques in anesthetics, wound care, and physical therapy. The hospital closed in 1948, but the property remained in use as a Naval receiving station until 1990.
The Brooklyn Naval Hospital Cemetery was active from 1831 to 1910 and was the burial site for more than 2,000 people, most of them officers and enlisted men of the US Navy and Marine Corps. Among those buried were two Congressional Medal of Honor winners, a Fijian Chief and individuals from more than 20 different countries. It is estimated that roughly 10% of all the servicemembers buried at the site were of African descent.
In 1926, the Navy relocated individuals buried in the cemetery to Cypress Hills National Cemetery. In the 1990’s, extensive archival and archaeological investigations of the site concluded that the remains of 987 individuals were recorded as being relocated, leaving hundreds of burials unaccounted for and potentially still at the site.
The Naval Cemetery Landscape is a project of Brooklyn Greenway Initiative to create a publicly-accessible green space which will revitalize the native plant and pollinator populations in the region and Its design includes a raised walkway to allow visitors to enter the space without disturbing the hallowed ground.
Learn more about the history and present development of this site and of the Brooklyn Navy Yard at BLDG 92, located at the corner of Flushing Avenue and Carlton Avenue.
BGI was awarded The Nature Sacred Award from the TKF Foundation in order to undertake a study to explore how landscape immersion has restorative benefits that may positively affect life outcomes for urban residents who are often alienated from nature.
Human health and the environmental health are inexorably linked. Immersion in nature can provide the experience of a ‘getaway from normal life,’ relieve stress and help restore attention. There is a growing body of research documenting that the regular experience of nature-like settings positively impacts children’s intellectual, emotional and social development and of the restorative benefits of landscape immersion on people of all ages. According to research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology:
The quality of urban environments is increasingly recognised to contribute to human health and well-being. The supply and maintenance of health-promoting areas and elements within urban areas such as green spaces are suggested to support residents’ possibilities to cope with everyday stress and to have a beneficial effect on human health (Frumkin, 2001; Maas, Verheij, Groenewegen, de Vries, & Spreeuwenberg, 2006; Maller,Townsend, Pryor, Brown, & St Leger, 2005; Nilsson, Baines, & Konijnendijk, 2007).
The continuing urbanisation process and pressures on existing green spaces, however, challenge the adequate provision of these areas. In urban planning processes, the health and well-being benefits of nature areas are not fully acknowledged and therefore, their provision is difficult to justify faced with competing land-use interests (e.g. Tyrväinen, Pauleit, Seeland, & de Vries, 2005).
In modern urbanised societies, acute and chronic stress, and insufficient recovery from stress, are recognised as an increasing problem and a cause for long-term effects on health (McEwen, 1998; Sluiter, Frings-Dresen, Meijman, & van der Beek, 2000). Stress is an important public health concern that is related to mental health problems such as burnout syndrome as well as cardiovascular, gastroenterological, immunological and neurological diseases (Nilsson, Sangster, & Konijnendijk, 2011).
The Naval Cemetery Landscape will provide opportunities for escape and relief from the built environment where visitors may engage in contemplation and reflection and momentarily sever the connection with the thoughts and feelings that sustain stress in their minds and bodies. The site is also the venue for a 4-year longitudinal study of the effects of landscape immersion on populations that are largely alienated from the natural environment.
- This study will evaluate how expansion of biodiversity and quantity of natural life will impact the physical and mental well-being of high school students and community housing residents.
- This project will test whether landscape immersion offers a cost-effective, equitable and accessible strategy for restoration of human health and well-being in urban contexts.
BGI and its team of researchers have partnered with The Green School of East Williamsburg and Brooklyn Community Housing and Services to develop the space and study the effects of nature on high school students and community housing residents.
The project’s research team, led by Denise Milstein, PhD,Director of Columbia University’s Masters Program in Sociology is collecting observations and data on the students and residents to assess their reaction and response to the natural space as it develops. The primary intent of the project is to evaluate the extent to which exposure to a natural site impacts people’s engagement with their surroundings, society, and school.
The research will result in a peer reviewed published article on the projects findings. It is one of six research projects funded by the TKF Foundation’s Nature Sacred Program nationally.
A goal of this project is to support an understanding that there is an economic benefit to society of providing nearby opportunities for landscape immersion that contribute to personal resiliency and as a result to life outcomes that are less costly to society.
Video of Students at The Green School
Thanks to all our partners
Through partnership with Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), Brooklyn Greenway Initiative has designed and completed the restoration of the site, which opened in spring 2016.
The project is a collaboration between BGI, BNYDC, the Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort), TKF Foundation as part of the National Open Spaces Sacred Places Initiative, Marvel Architects, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, Columbia University, GRANT engineering, The Green School, an environmentally themed high school, and Brooklyn Community Housing and Services (BCHANDS), an operator of assisted living facilities for populations including the chronically homeless.
Funding has been provided by ConEdison, TKF Foundation, New York State Department of State under Title 11 of the New York State Environmental Protection Fund, Council Member Steve Levin, Former Council Member Letitia James.
If you want to have an activity at the Naval Cemetery Landscape with more than 20 people, or you would like to reserve a specific area within the site, please email Brian McCormick at email@example.com