Charlestown Navy Yard, a Mixture of Yesterday and Today

May 25, 2012
By

Everything about the Charlestown Navy Yard is about today and the future although its history is resplendent.

Today, it is one of the city’s best rental addresses and a sought after place to live for the condominium owners who live literally and physically on the water with fabulous views and the taste and feeling of the sea ever present.

For residents of the Navy Yard and for the thousands of women and men who go to work there everyday, there is a new awareness that this urban oasis is what the future is all about in Boston.

The Navy Yard is the home to huge and important medical research institutions and it will shortly be the home of a $230 million Spaulding Hospital which is right now nearing completion.

By itself, the Spaulding facility is a magnificent example of the growth of the Navy Yard as a place for medical research, rehabilitation and for everything we have come to expext of extraordinary medical institutions.

Between Massachusetts General Hospital’s sprawling medical research laboratories and the new Spaulding Hospital, the future of employment and the expansion of medical research of all kinds takes on major new energy.

The hospital alone will contribute another 400-500 jobs in the Navy Yard and is certain to become one of the neighborhood’s most important members.

The Navy Yard of today is a neighborhood more than ever before.

Whether one works here or lives here, there is an undeniably pleasant ambiance to this largely red brick and granite neighborhood bounded by the ocean.

There are many different businesses, a few eateries, a museum, a berth with perhaps the most noted ship in the world still flying the American flag – Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution and there are different businesses in a variety of stone and granite buildings that abound in the Navy Yard.

There are also resident Navy Yard standouts like the National Park Service and individuals who make a difference like Peter Borre, Superintendent of Schools Carol Johnson, Meg Vaillancourt of the Boston Red Sox Foundation and Boston Bruins Tuukka Rask and Brad Marchand.

The Navy Yard was originally established in 1801. It was officially closed on July 1, 1974. The 30-acre  property became the Boston Historical Park. Besides the Constitution, the USS Cassin Young, a World War II-era destroyer serves as a museum ship.

Whether one lives here or works here or visits here, it is known as the Nay Yard widely.

For much of its life the Navy Yard, ships were built there or were modified there.

Today, the drydock remains with walking paths around it, the museum drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists and many more than that number coming for a first hand look at Old Ironsides.

During the late 1970’s and lasting throughout this decade, more and more of the Navy Yard has become the home for medical research and for residential housing.

A majority of the largest structures where some aspect of shipbuilding was practiced inside them have been turned into residential housing and condominiums.

They exist side by side and in the shadow of the medical research buildings.

Today, at least ten major medical facilities and bioscience companies reside in the neighborhood. The facilities measure almost 1 million square feet.

Again, the Massachusetts General Hospital operates major facilities here. Dimagi Inc. a company involved in mobile health systems – a healthcare software company – is also located in the Navy Yard.

The MGH cardiovascular Research Center is located in the massive cement and brick structure on 13th Street. In some of the smaller stately brick buildings, independent companies have found their home.

Nearly all the housing and commercial space  in the Navy Yard has been exquisitely brought back to life.

The modern housing that has been built blends in rather nicely, with Pier 7 a perfect example of that. There are newer row houses made to appear old.

Now comes the new hospital – the magnum opus of the neighborhood now taking shape and form next to a berth where air craft carriers used be tied up awaiting the wrecker’s hammer before being chopped up and sold as scrap.

Real estate developers came into the yard in a big way during the 1980’s, with all forms of housing coalescing inside the Navy Yard.

Today, the rents are high, the occupancy rate is low. Some condo’s sell for well over $1 million when just 25 years ago there was virtually no real estate market here to speak of.

The validation of the Navy Yard as one of this city’s best places to live is its proximity to the ocean.

Sailing lessons are available. Boat rentals are also available. Boat slips are abundant and for the most part, taken by those who not only live here but who boat here.

The advantage of boating out of the Navy Yard is that your access to Boston Harbor is so close.

And you can go out to dinner at the Tavern on the Water, The Bistro or at Junior Liz and Style Café.

The advantage to living in the Navy Yard is all about privacy and security, quality of life, closeness to the ocean, running paths and bike paths, but most of all, living in a neighborhood of the city which is friendly and so, so alive.

The Navy Yard experience is one of a kind.

Thousands of residents live here and love it. They live in a former navy yard where great war ships sailing the seas were built of steel and the sweat and toil of welders and tradesmen who did the bone wearying work.

Now the place is about medical research and lively residences.

Talk about irony.