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 are from Wednesday through Sunday from 8:00am-6:00pm.
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.
Free: Yoga in the Grove
Join us every Wednesday from 6:30-7:30pm for free outdoor yoga on the boardwalk at BGI’s Naval Cemetery Landscape, co-sponsored by Abhaya Yoga.
Meditation and Writing in the Grove
Starting June 11, join BGI as we meditate and free write in the beautiful outdoor space of the Naval Cemetery Landscape, co-sponsored by Breathe Read Write and Being in the Wild.
Session 1 on Sunday morning, June 11, 9:30 to 11:30 am: Welcome summer, season of growth and abundance.
Sessions 2-4 on the first Thursday evening of July (7/6), August (8/3), and Sept. (9/7), 6:30 to 8 pm: Tune in to the gifts and cycles of this ground and the beings that live here, such as trees, native wildflowers (Brown Eyed Susans, Asters, etc.), bees, birds, and more.
Session 5 on Sunday morning October 1, 9:30 am to 11:30 am:
Thank summer and welcome fall, season of harvest and completion.
For more information, please visit our Facebook Event page.
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, CLICK HERE
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 HORT and The Green School
Under the grant from the TKF Foundation, The Horticultural Society of New York is working with science teachers and students of The Green School, an environmentally themed public high school in East Williamsburg to participate in the transformation of the site and engage in experiential education their while having the exposure to the effects of landscape immersion on the site.
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, 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, you need to apply for a special event permit. Small-scale events at the Naval Cemetery Landscape include picnics, BBQs, family reunions, field days, or events of a similar nature.
Applications to conduct regulated activities or uses must be submitted at least twenty-one (21) days in advance of the planned event, activity or use. Applications for film/photography permits must be submitted at least 48 hours in advance. All applicants will be charged a $25 non-refundable application fee.
Submitting an application does not guarantee you will be granted a permit. Permit fees will be assessed based on the nature of the event. Permit fees are applied directly to the sites maintenance costs and horticultural upkeep.
Permits are required for:
- Wedding ceremonies
- A special event – this includes a performance, meeting, assembly, contest, exhibit, ceremony, parade, reading, or picnic involving more than 20 people
- A group activity involving less than 20 people for which specific space within the Park is requested to be reserved or set up is required
- Professional/Commercial photography or film
- Permits will not be granted on holidays or holiday weekends
- Permits are not available for outside fundraising purposes
- School field days must be limited to 200 children and must be accompanied by 1 adult for every 10 children
Please fill out an application online and pay a non-refundable $25 application fee with a credit or debit card. We require at least 21 days to process an application for small-scale events (events that do not require a proposal). Depending on the specific details of your event, you may need to submit a security bond. The bond is refundable if participants/organizers comply with the rules and regulations of the site in full.
Additional requirements and restrictions
- We do not allow tents larger than 10×10′ or canopies, balloons, amplified sound, generators, or inflatable structures for small-scale events.
- We do not issue permits for events on major holiday weekends.
Permit Application Fee: $25.00
- Up to 100 people: $500
- 101-150 people: $1000
- $500/day if no closure of Park sections is required
- $2,500/day if closure of Park sections is required or if equipment is brought in.
Special Event Permits:
- Up to 250 people: $500/day if no closure of Park sections is required
- $2,500/day if closure of Park sections is required or if equipment is brought in
- Over 250 people: rate based on days needs, number of people anticipated and type of activity
A minimum $750 cleaning bond may be required for special events. The bond may be higher depending on the size of the event and type of activity held. If park staff have to clean up after an event it is a minimum of $250/person/day. An event insurance policy or certificate of additional insured is required for all events.
Types of Events
In general, any event with more than 250 participants, as well as concerts, musical or theatrical performances, fairs, fundraising events, or events of similar nature require a proposal.Click here to see our large event proposal guidelines. A detailed proposal should be submitted at least 90 days in advance of your event. After your proposal is submitted, it will be reviewed and you will be contacted.
Our standard requirements, where applicable, include but are not limited to, a refundable bond fee, certificate of insurance together with the Broker certification form, approvals from city agencies such as the health department, fire department and others where appropriate.
- Permits will not be issued on holidays or holiday weekends.
- Fees: there is a $500 non-refundable site fee for wedding ceremonies of up to 100 people and $1000 non-refundable site fee for wedding ceremonies of 101-150 people, in addition to the $25 non-refundable application fee.
- 2 wedding permits can be issued per location per day: one between 8am and 2pm, another between 2pm and 8pm.
- No equipment can be used for weddings at (i.e. staging, decorations, microphones, tables, podiums, tents larger than 10×10). Small, portable chupahs are allowed. Low-volume music is acceptable.
- A maximum of 50 folding chairs can be brought for guests. Additional fees will apply if your event requires additional chairs.
- Wedding ceremonies cannot exceed 1.5 hours.
- Cancellations: After a permit has been submitted, there will be no refunds on site fees or permit fees. However, we will reschedule your ceremony within the calendar year, pending site availability.
- We do not require permits for wedding photos unless your group is larger than 20 or you plan to use more than handheld photography equipment.
- We do not allow wedding receptions at the site
Permits will not be issued on holidays or holiday weekends. Film/Photography permits must be submitted 48 hours prior to your event.
Please note that additional fees apply, and will be assessed once your permit application is received.