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Brooklyn Naval Cemetery Reopens as Lush Public Park After 90 Years

 The Naval Hospital Cemetery Memorial Landscape at the Brooklyn Navy Yard opened Friday to the public.
The Naval Hospital Cemetery Memorial Landscape at the Brooklyn Navy Yard opened Friday to the public.
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Menelik Puryear

NAVY YARD — A former cemetery has gotten a new lease on life.

The 1.7-acre Naval Hospital Cemetery Memorial Landscape at the Brooklyn Navy Yard opened to the public Friday for the first time in 90 years.

The memorial, located in the southeast corner of the Navy Yard at Kent and Flushing avenues, honors more than 2,000 naval officers and Marines who were buried in the Brooklyn Naval Hospital Cemetery between 1834 and 1910.

The new green space, complete with wooden walkways, stone markers and native wildflower meadows, is the first open space created as part of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, a project by nonprofit organization Brooklyn Greenway Initiative in partnership with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.

The park's opening was marked by an official ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday with statements from local elected officials, a performance by the Green School G Squad Step Group and a performance by the TILT Brass Band.

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Credit: Menelik Puryear

“After 90 years, the transformation of this space will create a place where the community can come together,” said Brooklyn Navy Yard President and CEO David Ehrenberg in a statement. “As we approach Memorial Day, we are reminded of the significant military history of the Yard, and through the thoughtful landscape design, we hope to honor those roots.”

The park, designed by Marvel Architects and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, features native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and trees, and was landscaped to be home to birds, bees and butterflies.

The landscaping is symbolic of the renewal of life in nature, according to a press release.

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Credit: Menelik Puryear

"We endeavored to create an experience of landscape and planted form that offers retreat, remembrance, and engaged observation while honoring the layered, 200-year history,” said Thomas Woltz, who led the project, in a statement. “We wanted visitors to have an immersive experience that would engage them in the importance of pollinator habitat in the urban environment, while symbolically attracting many forms of life to a place that has historically commemorated death.”

The Naval Hospital Cemetery Memorial Landscape will be open Wednesdays through Sundays, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.