The Washington Navy Yard (WNY) is the Navy’s oldest shore station and the oldest continuously operated federal facility in the United States. It was established on October 2, 1799, as a shipbuilding yard on land set aside by a presidential order.
WNY is located on approximately 63 acres in southeastern Washington, DC. At its largest, WNY occupied approximately 129 acres. After World War II (WWII), WNY’s role began to shift from primarily manufacturing to administration, which gradually resulted in the need for fewer facilities and less land. In the early 1960s, 63 acres were sold to the General Services Administration (GSA) for the Southeast Federal Center (SEFC).
WNY’s original mission was the construction and maintenance of naval vessels. The prevalent activities at WNY from its establishment were industrial development and ordnance production. Ordnance production became WNY’s mission by the 1860s. By WWII, the Yard served as the primary naval ordnance plant. At its peak, the WNY consisted of 188 buildings and employed nearly 25,000 people. After WWII, administrative activities continued to replace industrial work as the primary function of the facility. Currently, WNY consists of administrative, supply, and storage buildings; residences; training facilities; and museums. Buildings and other impervious surfaces cover approximately 95 percent of WNY, with 2.7 acres of parkland being the only substantially vegetated area in a largely urban setting.