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Washington Navy Yard
Commissioned in 1799 by the country’s first Secretary of the Navy, the Washington Navy Yard is the U.S. Navy’s oldest shore establishment. The Navy Yard occupies land that was originally set aside by President George Washington for use by the Federal Government. Now dedicated as a Category II Landmark by the Joint Committee on Landmarks, the Navy Yard has performed a number of functions throughout its 200 plus years of service.
During the Yard’s early years, it became the Navy’s largest shipbuilding and ship-fitting facility. Twenty-two different types of vessels were constructed here, ranging from small 70-foot gunboats to large 246-foot steam frigates. The historic USS Constitution was docked here in 1812 preparing for combat action. In 1886, the Yard was designated as the only ordnance manufacturing facility in the Navy. By World War II, the Yard was the largest naval ordnance manufacturing plant in the world. Weapons designed and built here were used in every war the United States fought in until the 1960s.
Known as the “Quarterdeck of the Navy,” the Navy Yard has long served as a diplomatic face for the U.S. Navy. It was here that the first Japanese ambassadors were received in 1860. The Navy Yard is also where the body of the Unknown Soldier from World War I was received and where Charles Lindbergh ended his famous transatlantic flight in 1927.
Today, despite the loss of its ordnance manufacturing duties, the Washington Navy Yard continues to serve as the Headquarters for the Naval District Washington.