Still, an imposing mass on the Brooklyn waterfront, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, located at the foot of the Sunset Park neighbourhood, is a trip through history. Built as the largest military supply base in the United States from the end of World War I through World War II, by the time the base was closed in the 1970s, over 3 million soldiers and 37 million tons of military supplies had passed through the terminal. It was also the largest concrete building when it was built.
A city within a city, the building was a hub where war material and military personnel arrived, were stored, and then left by train, water or road.
Today it houses many light manufacturing companies, and the central courtyard seen in the image, with its balconies that connected every floor with the goods lifted from the trains by the big cranes, is still an amazing view.
It is also perhaps a predecessor of today’s distribution centres, designed to process the delivery of the millions of products being bought online from city dwellers. This time, they are dull huge boxes placed in the countryside, hidden from our sight, unlike BAT’s prominent position in the New York harbour. They now also have almost no people, since robots do more and more of the work. But maybe we just still don’t understand the sublime qualities of their simplicity and size, like we do with the Brooklyn Army Terminal.