Besides the historic ships docked here and the museum dedicated to them, the Charlestown Navy Yard is a living monument to its own history of shipbuilding and naval command. Visit the National Park Service Visitor Center here for a free film, guided tours and other info about the Navy Yard and Freedom Trail sites.
Although most of the shipyard buildings are not open to the public, you can wander around the dry docks and see how the ships were repaired while resting on wooden blocks. The oldest building in the yard is the imposing Federal-style Commandant’s House, dating to 1805. Other interesting buildings on the grounds include the 1000ft-long Ropewalk, where all the Navy’s rope was made for 135 years. Next door, in the forge shop, metal workers hammered out ‘die-lock’ chains, which eventually put the ropemakers out of business.