It is the shipyard that shaped a city, but it was the workers who shaped the shipyard.
And as the 35th anniversary of the discovery of the wreck of the Titanic, a vessel forever linked with Harland & Wolff, was marked yesterday, there has never been a better time to explore the history of the place, its workers and its legacy.
For actor and playwright Dan Gordon, born into a long line of east Belfast shipyard workers, it was the perfect opportunity to revisit the site and marvel at the relics of an industrial era that spawned the most tragic ocean-going behemoth of them all.
When Dr Robert Ballard and French diving engineer Jean-Louis Michel discovered the liner's final resting place in the North Atlantic, the world was once again captivated.
And once a blockbuster movie that would go on to Oscars success hit the big screens in 1997, it was full steam ahead as Belfast re-embraced the legend.
"The Titanic story was the perfect storm," said Gordon as he set foot back in the place his ancestors knew so well.
"It was the first global disaster the world learned about through the new mediums of newspaper and radio.
"It wasn't that people died in a war, these were real people and it gave the world a tangible sense of our own vulnerability, probably for the first time.
"Then you have all the headlines of Titanic being unsinkable. You couldn't write a better script.
"But what the movie did was give Belfast the go-ahead to take pride in the ship. She was all right when she left Belfast; and the building of her, and the workers at H&W, became something to celebrate."
It also threw new light onto the shipyard and its workforce, with their 67 different trades.
"My grandfather George Gordon was a shipyard worker from Scotland," he said.
"He worked for Harland & Wolff in the early 1900s but not on the Olympic or Titanic. He was a labourer in the sister shipyard in Govan on the River Clyde. But he was drawn to the burgeoning city of Belfast, and when he got here he stayed.
"He had six sons who all followed him into what they came to know as 'The Boat Factory'.
"My own father started there as an apprentice joiner in July 1945. When my turn came I stayed on at school instead. It wasn't a bad move as the yard was starting to slow down production."
Having already tapped into that family history with the shipyard in his stage play The Boat Yard, his next project is a TV documentary charting last year's battle by the unions to keep its gates open.
"I just can't imagine Belfast without our yellow cranes. It's great to see the yard still operating, but there's now so much more to explore about Belfast and its history around the docks," added Gordon.
"It's not just a history of shipbuilding in Belfast, it's a history of Belfast.
"It's a chance to see the tools of the trade. It's actually all very moving to see how so many of my family worked."
And with Gordon, you know a tale or two are never far away.
"There was a worker used to go out the front gate every Friday with a wheelbarrow with a cover over it," he said. "The Harbour Police used to stop him to check under the cover because they suspected he was pinching stuff. It was always empty and they were baffled. It was only years later they discovered he was stealing wheelbarrows!"