Charlestown Navy Yard Virtual Tour

At more than 200 years old, the Charlestown Navy Yard you see today is the product of constant change, both planned and unplanned. The central mission of the yard was always to support the US Navy—to build, repair, and modernize its warships. As the needs of the Navy changed and shifted, so did the landscape and the people at the Yard. The lasting legacy of those changes and shifts is what remains today.

When the US Navy bought a piece of shoreline off Boston Harbor in 1800, they envisioned a station that would support the small fleet of warships built to protect a young nation. Only a handful of buildings existed during the first twelve years. Then in the midst of the War of 1812, the Navy expanded the yard to keep up with defense, and to keep up with technological change. At that time, carpenters built the ships of wood, caulkers waterproofed the hulls with rope and tar, and riggers organized a complicated network of ropes and sails to propel the ships forward. Over the next 130 years, the Navy Yard demolished or removed what was obsolete. The Navy constructed replacement facilities and purchased new technology when practical. By 1943, the yard employed some 50,000 workers. Every day, men and women welded metal, forged steel, fabricated machinery, fitted pipes, and ran electrical wire to build massive ships in a matter of weeks.

The Charlestown Navy Yard played a significant role in transforming the Navy from sail to steam and from wood to steel. This legacy is embedded in the surviving landscape. Join this virtual tour to explore how the Navy Yard fulfilled its mission, and secured that legacy.

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    Last updated: February 4, 2022

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