Union Square's U.S.S. Recruit: August 1917
During World War I, the US Navy commissioned a land-based dreadnought battleship as a recruiting and training center for the New York city district. Located in Manhattan's Union Square and christened the U.S.S. Recruit
, or the Landship Recruit
, this fully rigged battleship accommodated 39 bluejacket guards from the Newport Training Station under the command of Acting Captain C.F. Pierce. Every day, crew members would live as though they were at sea: the would do laundry, clean the deck, attend classes, and stand guard. Meanwhile, regular citizens would tour the ship to improve their understanding of life aboard a warship. As you can see from the left, the U.S.S. recruit contained waiting rooms, doctor's offices, shower rooms, and even a ventilating device to regulate temperature. As far as weaponry goes, the ship used several wooden models of guns to represent rifles and naval guns. The New York Times
reported that the Navy recruited 25,000 men through the ship. After the War, the Recruit
was decommissioned and dismantled for a planned relocation to Coney Island, but to this day, no one knows what fate befell it.
Read the full story in "The 'Recruit' -- Our Only Land Battleship"