Arts and Entertainment

Industry City: Junkyard to Tourist Hub

This article summarizes the transformation of Industry City and Brooklyn and what it's like to be there today.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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By Jason Lin

Fifteen years ago, Industry City, located in the neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, was a bunch of warehouses and industrial buildings. This area was often deserted, except for a few manufacturers who worked there. Today, Industry City has transformed into an industrial complex focused on the innovation economy, along with traditional manufacturing and artisanal craft. The 30-acre area hosts over 400 companies and 4,500 workers, and is home to over 100,000 tourists a year, which is only growing in number.

Despite being along a waterfront in Brooklyn, Industry City is pretty convenient to get to. The R, N, and D trains stop nearby, as do a variety of buses. The area around Industry City is relatively dull and run-down, so walking into this attraction is like visiting a whole other neighborhood. In the early 1900s, this spot was independent of the rest of the area, with its own police force, fire department, and rail network. Industry City had a lot of use during the Industrial Revolution, but after the World War II era, its use declined and became less recognized.

In 2013, Andrew Kimball, the CEO of Industry City, had ambitions to transform the area into a thriving hub. He wanted people to recognize the beauty of self-run industries. Today, there are very few chain stores in Industry City; most are self-run businesses, which I think is great because it’s awesome to see people creating new industries using their own ideas and creating a community where people can interact with and buy from them. Industry City has become a place for everyone to collaborate, discuss, and innovate—it’s a community of hard workers. This is different from chain stores, such as McDonald's or Nike, because they remain relatively formulaic and static. However, with unique businesses, there is a lot to discover and learn.

Since 2012, $125 million has been invested in Industry City. There is so much that’s been added that Industry City can be thought of as its own town. There’s a 40,000 square foot food hall with desserts, restaurants, delis, and more; five acres of space open to the public complete with gardens, chairs, bike racks, free internet, and more to socialize and lounge in; a fitness center, a roller skating rink, and independent stores. There are also summer music festivals, shows, and other unique events held here.

Industry City is also sending an environmental message. During the time of the Industrial Revolution, clouds of smoke filled this area due to the amount of manufacturing. Today, it produces 100 percent green wind power for its main buildings and has committed to efforts to reduce the carbon footprint and recycle organic waste.

Even though I live only 20 minutes away from Industry City, I had never thought to take a look until this summer. I had attended a summer program in one of the main buildings in Industry City, and during our free time, we were allowed to go out and explore. Walking through Industry City, I was greatly intrigued by everything that was going on. The summer program teamed up with the group that pushed Industry City’s urbanization, and we learned about their efforts to improve the city, which involved partnering with hundreds of programs and schools to teach young students about Industry City. I explored the food court, hung out in the public space, and checked out some of the independent stores (which include almost everything from clothes to accessories to food). Before my summer program, the only reason I ever came to the Industry City area was to go to Costco—I didn’t know there was anything beyond that.

I definitely recommend visiting this tourist hub. It’s a wonderful space full of growing industries, and there’s so much to do here. Whether it's watching a show, visiting an exhibit, eating lunch, or scoring free samples at the chocolate store, Industry City has a place for everyone.