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New York Transit Museum
Old Stone House
Morbid Anatomy Museum
BLDG 92 (YORK ST)
BLDG 92 traces the history of Brooklyn’s Naval Yard from its days as an anchorage for British prison ships during the Revolutionary War to its decline in the late 20th century, all the way up to its 21st century reinvention. It was one of the five original Naval Yards authorized by John Adams at the end of his presidency. When it was ordered to be closed by Robert McNamara in 1966, the Brooklyn Naval Yard employed more than 9,000 people. BLDG 92 opened as a museum in 2011 and is certified platinum (the highest possible rating) by the U.S. Green Buildings Council.
The building itself is a former Marine Commandant’s residence. It was designed in 1857 by Thomas U. Walter, who was also one of the architects who worked on the U.S. Capitol Building. There are three floors of exhibits. Admission to the exhibits is free. Different yard tours are available starting at $20.
It’s about a 20-minute walk from the York Street station, but the B57, B67 and B69 buses stop on Flushing Avenue near the entrance.
NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM (Jay St-MetroTech)
Since 1976, the New York Transit Museum has been telling the story of how mass transit transformed New York City into what it is today. Perhaps it’s fitting that the city that never sleeps has a subway that never stops. The museum is located in a 1936 subway station in Downtown Brooklyn. Even the museum entrance is identical to that of a subway station. In addition to the elevated and subway cars, there are also vintage turnstiles, city buses and changing exhibits. The rotating selection of vintage train cars on display dates back to the early 20th century.
While it’s hard to imagine (like the Pearl Jam song) cigarette ads in subway cars in the 21st century, they were once as prevalent as smartphone ads are now. Anyone longing for the days when Viceroy was a prevalent cigarette brand can take a trip down memory lane at the transit museum.
The Subway Fare Media exhibit goes back to the first paper tickets that were issued in 1904. After more than 30 years of real coins, the system was switched to tokens in 1953. Tokens lasted for another 50 years until being completed phased out by the MetroCards, which are still in use today.
While Boston may have had the first subway, no other public transit system in the United States can rival New York’s 469 stations, over 650 miles of mainline track and 24-hour service. The system moves more than 4.5 million passengers per day. To put that into perspective, that’s more people than live in the second largest American city (Los Angeles at around 4 million).
OLD STONE HOUSE (4 AV)
Old Stone House gives visitors an idea of what it was like to live in Brooklyn during the Revolutionary War. The building is a 1933 reconstruction of the original Vechte-Cortelyou House from 1699. Some of the original stones were recovered for use in the reconstruction. The building (which is located inside Washington Park) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Battle of Brooklyn was the first military engagement after the Declaration of Independence. Significant battles took place in areas like Fort Greene, Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park. In late August of 1776, American General William Alexander led a regiment of 400 Maryland soldiers to battle against 2,000 British soldiers under the command of British General Cornwalis at Old Stone House. Nearly two-thirds of the Maryland regiment were killed, wounded or went missing. Their exact burial places were never discovered. The British occupied Brooklyn and Manhattan until the end of the war.
Old Stone House was also the clubhouse for the team that eventually became the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Brooklyn Superbas played at Washington Baseball Park (1883-1891), which is now home to JJ Byrne Playground, Washington Park and William Alexander Middle School.
MORBID ANATOMY MUSEUM (4 AV)
Hollywood has the Museum of Death, but Brooklyn has the Morbid Anatomy Museum. Among the nearly 100 museums in New York City, it one certainly stands out as one of the most eccentric. The exterior of the building is painted black. Their mission, according to creative director Joanna Ebenstein, is to highlight the obscure and strangely beautiful.
The museum is located just four blocks from New York City’s first Whole Foods Market outside of Manhattan in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn (between Carroll Gardens and Park Slope). Upon entrance, visitors are greeted by the sound of music that makes Slayer seem mainstream. Exhibits are upstairs, but the bookstore/café on the first floor can be just as quizzical.
In 1995, KRS-One rapped about “sleepin’ out in Prospect Park.” The park is spread out over 585 acres. The F-G line stops on the western corner and the B-Q (and S) line(s) on the eastern corner. You can rent bicycles and boats at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside. Every Sunday, Smorgasburg comes to Prospect Park.
CONEY ISLAND-STILLWELL AVE
Ok, everyone has heard of Coney Island. The D-F-N-Q lines all end there. Even though New Jersey and Pennsylvania have more expansive parks with huge parking lots, Luna Park is still an attraction for both New Yorkers and tourists alike. There’s also the beach and boardwalk as well as the New York Aquarium. For baseball fans, the Brooklyn Cyclones have been playing at MCU Park since 2001 as the New York Mets single-A team.
For foodies, there’s a Grimaldi’s outside of the subway (it’s above ground in most of Brooklyn) station, but it’s not the original and you won’t see a line outside the door. The real gem in this area is Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano. They’ve been serving pies in Coney Island for over 90 years and have one of only a handful of coal-fired brick ovens still in use in NYC.
MetroCard was provided by NYC & Company.