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.
The Naval Cemetery Landscape is open for solitary enjoyment and to ensure staff and public safety, we are limiting the amount of visitors at one time. Visitors are required to wear a face covering while inside the NCL.
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. We highly recommend taking public transportation, biking or walking to NCL.
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)
NYC Ferry at Brooklyn Navy Yard (15 min walk)
STAY IN TOUCH
An escape from the built environment along the @bkgreenway
Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10am-6pm
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.
MEDITATION + MOVEMENT
Join us for a series of free virtual guided meditations and mini sound baths with Alex Beckmann Sound.
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.
There are many benefits to letting your body rest and relax during Sonic Meditation. Research has confirmed that listening to certain music can effectively and rapidly elicit the relaxation response and bring about chemical, hormonal, and cellular change that actively promotes healing.
Sound baths will be released via Instagram TV on Mondays throughout the month of July.
Two hallmarks of the NCL as a Sacred Place– the bench and the journal– have been adapted to keep visitors safe during the global health crisis. The bench, which invites people to pause—to sit, breathe, be present, enjoy space in nature, and each other, remains a destination for solitary visitor reflection. Instead of finding the communal journal tucked in the bench, we’re giving individuals a blank journal of their own to take to the bench and share thoughts and experiences on the page—a simple notion with a powerfully cathartic outcome.
In order to keep the interaction between journal entries alive during the pandemic, we’re inviting visitors to take a photo of their personal journal entries, share them on social media, and use the hashtag #NCLbenchstories so that other visitors can view them. We will also be sharing a series of excerpts from previously filled journals, in order to prompt reflection and create community.
Test your pollinator identification skills by visiting the Naval Cemetery Landscape and participating in our season-long BioBlitz on iNaturalist. The native pollinators that are observed and recorded at the NCL will be used as data for the Empire State Native Pollinator Survey. Refresh your citizen science skills by rereading our blog post on citizen science and iNaturalist here. To help you identify the native bees at the NCL, read our Native Bee Guide blog post, written by bee biologist Sarah Kornbluth.
Every Friday can be #FlowerFriday when you plant native wildflowers in your backyard, abandoned neighborhood lots, or windowsill! To get you started, we’ll be giving away native, bee-friendly wildflower seed packets at the NCL that you can take home and plant. Learn how to make a “seed burst” with native wildflower seeds that you can plant to save the bees! Then, follow along on Instagram as we showcase a different wildflower growing in the NCL every Friday! Read our blog post about the importance of planting native flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees for pollinators.
INSIDE THE HIVE
Did you know that it takes 2 million flowers for bees to produce a single pound of honey? Learn about the fascinating world of urban beekeeping by joining Danielle Knott of Big Dipper Apiaries for live, virtual hive inspections of the NCL’s honeybee colony, as she takes us “Inside the Hive” all season long.
FAMILY + YOUTH
SATURDAY STORY TIME
Join urban ecologist and educator, Georgia Silvera Seamans, virtually at the NCL for nature filled story times during the month of August. Georgia will be sharing five of her favorite children’s books, all focusing on the diverse urban ecosystem of NYC. She has chosen books that specifically highlight different areas and aspects of the NCL’s ecology, from bees to hawks, and seeds to trees. Read alongs will be hosted on the NCL Instagram TV channel.
Pick up these titles at your local book store or borrow them from the library to read along:
Saturday August 1st: Ruby’s Birds by Mya Thompson
Saturday August 8th: The Tale of Pale Male by Jeanette Winter
Saturday August 15h: Wangari’s Tree of Peace by Jeanette Winter
Saturday August 22nd: The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter by Shabazz Larkin
Saturday August 29th: The Hike by Alison Farrell
MILKWEED MEADOW COLORING PAGES
The Naval Cemetery Landscape is officially recognized as a Monarch Waystation by Monarch Watch, due to the amount of nectar rich annuals and milkweed varieties planted in the meadow. Monarch butterflies are in decline, due mostly to the lack of habitat and foraging resources along their migration routes. Help us raise awareness about Monarchs and their habitat needs by contributing to our virtual #MilkweedMeadow! Pick up a Monarch and Milkweed coloring sheet at the NCL (or download a digital one here), decorate it, and share it with us on Instagram using the hashtag #MilkweedMeadow. At the end of the season we’ll create a virtual Monarch Waystation showcasing everyone’s beautiful artwork.
SELF GUIDED TOUR OF THE NCL
Stay tuned for updates!
TURNSTILE TOURS – URBAN ECOLOGY at the BROOKLYN NAVY YARD
Take a look inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard and discover the natural world in the midst of a thriving urban industrial park. This is a 2-hour tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard led by Turnstile Tours, beginning inside the Yard and ending at Naval Cemetery Landscape.
On this tour you will 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.
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 service members 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.
TAKE A VIRTUAL NCL TOUR with TURNSTILE TOURS
THE NATURE EFFECT
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.
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.