Boston Navy Yard  - Dry-Docks #1


Dry Dock Opened: June 24, 1833


1833 Statistics:

Overall Dimension 341' x 100'

Dock Floor Dimension: 228' x 30', Rising in Tiers to 253' x 86' at the Top.

Note: The floor of the dock is 32', below mean high water.


1947/Today Statistics:

Length- 415' x 100'


Historic Civil Engineering Landmark

by the American Society of Civil Engineers




Dry Dock 1 is one of the first two naval dry docks in the United States and a significant landmark in American civil engineering. It is also significant as one of the major civil engineering projects undertaken by Loammi Baldwin II, considered as the "Father of American Civil Engineering," with the assistance of Alexander Parris, a leading early 19th-century Boston architect.



Construction of the dry dock took six years. The total cost of the project was $677,089.78 (1830 dollars)


The cofferdam was completed on May 21, 1828. Five days later, excavation work for the dock began.  The last of over 4,000 piles for the dock foundation would be driven almost a year later, on Oct. 27, 1829.  Masonry work began in the spring of 1830.

NOTE: The granite for Charlestown was purchased from Gridley Bryant and came from quarries at Quincy, Mass., that were also supplying stone for the nearby Bunker Hill Monument.

Dry Dock pumps were powered by a steam engine built by the Bridgewater Iron Manufacturing Co. to the design of Eben A. Lester. Baldwin retained Lester to supervise the engine and pump installation. The pumps themselves were supplied by W. Lyman. These components were located in the Engine House (Bldg 22), the first major Navy Yard building designed by Alexander Parris. This work proceeded through the following winter, and on June 13, 1832, the dry dock pumps were tested for the first time.


Two turning gates and the floating gate were of wood construction. The former were each 36 ft. wide, while the floating gate was 60 ft. in length with a maximum beam of 16 ft. It fitted into grooves built into the end of the dock. The turning gates were operated by chains using a pair of manual capstans on each side of the dock, the outer one for opening and the inner one for closing.

The spring of 1833 saw the completion of the floating gate, modifications to the turning gates, and removal of the cofferdam.


The long-awaited opening of the dock occurred on June 24, 1833, when USS Constitution entered the facility. Baldwin formally handed the dock over to the Navy Yard on Sept. 9, 1833.


Virginia dock was first placed in operation on June 17, 1833, a date of great significance to Massachusetts then as today as Bunker Hill Day.