The Battery Maritime Building is an iconic Beaux-Arts ferry terminal building originally constructed in 1909 located at the southern tip of Manhattan. Before Manhattan’s numerous bridges were built, the ferry system served as the primary mode of transportation to New York’s other boroughs, playing a key role to the city’s early expansion. By the end of the 1800s, there were nearly 20 separate ferry lines on the East River alone, including one that operated out of South Street and served Brooklyn and 39th Street.
In 1906, the city of New York assumed control of this ferry line and spearheaded the construction of the Battery Maritime Building, which finished construction in 1909. It was designed by Walker & Morris to act as the Municipal Ferry Pier connecting Manhattan to South Brooklyn. The Brooklyn ferry service shut down in 1938, and the 140,000 square-foot building has since been used by various city agencies, the US Army, and, most recently, the US Coast Guard. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
The massive steel structure is a prime example of civic architecture at the turn of the century in New York City. The building features a historic great hall, 2,800 square-feet of sky-lights located on 35-foot ceilings, and floor to ceiling windows. There are over 8,800 elements of cast iron throughout the building. Spectacular views can be seen of the Brooklyn Bridge to the east, Governors Island to the south and the Statue of Liberty to the west.
The redevelopment of BMB has been in the works for nearly 20 years and the New York Economic Development Council (“EDC”) has made the redevelopment of BMB a priority for the City. The project team is rehabilitating the building into a unique space including a hotel, banquet space, restaurant, and cultural destination. It will also remain an operational ferry terminal serving lower Manhattan and Governors Island. The restored building will be open to the public throughout the year through cultural events such as art shows and exhibitions.
Economic and community impacts
The development team anticipates the restoration to generate 1,000 prior and ongoing construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs. The EDC is intimately involved in the development and is a great resource for reaching out to organizations that support hiring locals and low-income people. The development team is working with groups like HireNYC to ensure employment opportunities are marketed, filled, and paid equitably. The project will also employ a cultural coordinator to organize events and exhibits open to the public throughout the year. Hosted in the great hall, these events will include art shows and exhibitions, which will draw local foot traffic from the newly renovated nearby Waterfront Esplanade.