“Terminal New York”

Brooklyn Army Terminal

The Brooklyn Army Terminal, Cass Gilbert’s poured-concrete structure of 1918–19, looks large, solid, and rather unexceptional from the outside, a massive warehouse. But the interior is astonishing. Eight cavernous floors, with relatively low ceilings supported by imposing ranks of squat, Egyptian-like columns, open on a breathtaking enclosed loading dock for rail freight. This so-called atrium space combines the simple grandeur one associates with the monuments of early civilizations with a kind of futurist, science fiction imagery. Empty and slightly dilapidated, the space retains its impact as mise-en-scène for the spectacle of the war machine. One can only imagine how impressive it must have been filled with clamor and steam as munitions and matériel were loaded onto waiting trains—an almost cinematic wonder.

A well-chosen, carefully installed art show might have been able to survive

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