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Bush Terminal Now a Designated State Historic Site

Bush Terminal, which Industry City is part of, is now a nominee to be added to the National Register of Historic Places.
A view of part of the Bush Terminal Historic District.

The New York State Board for Historic Preservation said it has added the Bush Terminal Historic District in Sunset Park to the New York State Register of Historic Places.

The nominations include industrial buildings, public housing sites and houses of worship across New York State, according to a press release. 

Once approved, the sites are eligible for various public preservation programs and incentives, such as matching state grants and federal and state historic rehabilitation tax credits.  

New York State leads the nation in the use of historic tax credits, with $3.96 billion in total rehabilitation costs from 2018-2022. Since 2009, the historic tax credit program has stimulated over $13 billion in project expenditures in New York State, creating significant investment and new jobs. According to a  report, between 2018-2022, the credits in New York State generated 72,918 jobs and over $1.47 billion in local, state, and federal taxes. 

“Through new research, collaboration, and the agency’s 'Our Whole History' initiative, we are telling more complete histories of communities throughout New York State," New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Pro Tempore Randy Simons said. 

Bush Terminal in Brooklyn was a groundbreaking industrial complex that integrated railroad and water transportation with industrial warehousing and manufacturing, according to the news release. It was the first integrated industrial complex to combine all of these elements under one owner, and it became the largest multi-tenant industrial property in the United States. Its success also greatly impacted how future industrial complexes were designed.

Construction of the terminal began on the Brooklyn waterfront in 1895, with two major expansions in 1902 and 1905. The architecture of Bush Terminal reflects the rapid change in style and construction methods of industrial buildings around 1900. The earliest buildings were of traditional industrial architectural design: interiors of mill construction distinguished by massive wood beams and posts that were slow to burn in case of fire; exteriors designed in what has come to be known as the American round-arch style, characterized by flat brick façades punctuated by a regular rhythm of segmental- or round-arched window openings.

Around 1905, the architecture of Bush Terminal made a rapid transition towards the use of reinforced concrete framing, which in turn allowed for novel exterior designs, particularly the abstracted Industrial Neoclassicism. The reinforced concrete buildings at Bush Terminal were the product of an innovative design team led by architect William Higginson and the Turner Construction Company.