Charlestown Navy Yard

National Historic Landmark

Note: a separate Freedom Trail walking tour includes selected sites in this area.

The Charlestown Navy Yard was founded in 1800 on forty-three acres at Moulton’s Point, where the British landed for the Battle of Bunker Hill. Among the famous ships constructed here were the Boston (1799–1800), the Independence (1814), and the Merrimac (1854–1855), the ship captured by the Confederate forces who ironclad it before its defeat by the Union ironclad Monitor. It was here, beginning in 1813, that ships were first built indoors to speed up construction and protect the partially constructed vessels from the weather.

At its peak the Navy Yard employed almost 50,000 workers, and in 1943 a record forty-six destroyer escorts were built. In 1956 the USS Suffolk County was the last ship built at the Navy Yard, and in 1971 rope production ceased. In 1974 President Nixon decommissioned the Navy Yard, and it was established as part of the Boston National Historic Park.

Today the Navy Yard is a remarkable preservation and reuse project, with nineteen buildings renovated and more than 2,000,000 square feet of new construction. This water-oriented mixed-use community combines housing for all income groups with recreation opportunities, office and research facilities, and educational and museum sites in a setting of unique historic importance. The streetscape is tree-lined, with paving of brick and granite and historic-style lighting fixtures. Second Avenue, the old focus of retail activity in the Navy Yard, became a pedestrian mall. A continuous open and accessible waterfront stretching nearly 3 miles is part of the 43-mile-long HarborWalk that encompasses the entire Boston waterfront. A water shuttle links CNY Pier 4 and Long Wharf on the Boston waterfront. The two-time America’s Cup winner Courageous is based at the Courageous Sailing Center situated at Pier 4.

Image: Historic Rendering of CNY, National Park Service