The Watchtower first moved to Brooklyn in 1908. For 40 years prior to that the International Bible Students had operated out of a small building in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, which is now part of Pittsburgh. Although shuttered for about a year from 1918 to 1919, ever since its reopening when Rutherford was released from the Atlanta penitentiary the Watchtower has acquired more and more properties in Brooklyn.
For more than a half-century the Watchtower facility has had a dominant presence in the heart of one of the most populous and important cities in the world – being situated right across the river from bustling Manhattan and Wall Street; and its signage has been a venerable landmark. Bethel even displays the name of Jehovah before the thousands of daily passerby.
To serve at Bethel is considered the greatest honor and privilege among Jehovah's Witnesses. Only spiritually mature men and women are even allowed to apply. And the many hundreds (1,500) of Jehovah's Witnesses who serve at the world headquarters also attend the dozens of congregations scattered throughout the greater New York City area and are considered to be an important spiritual presence and and a valuable influence. Not only do the Bethelites work what amounts to a full-time job, but like all other Jehovah's Witnesses they also have a public ministry. Some particularly energetic and zealous Bethelites even serve as auxiliary pioneers.