Glass Blowing and Greenpoint, a Continued Tradition

Glass pendants from Echo Glass

Echo Glass Works at 253 Greenpoint Ave. offers a dazzling variety of one-of-a-kind custom glass jewelry, kiln cast glass, along with blown glass vessels that simply stun. However, this is not the first time that beautiful glass has been created in Greenpoint, which has a history of glass blowing dating back to the Civil War. One of the best-known glass factories in America in the 19th century was the Greenpoint Flint Glass Works located on Commercial Street.

The site of Greenpoint Flint Glass Works pictured in 1907, which later became Gleason-Tiebout Co. (via Brooklyn Eagle Archives)

The founder of the Greenpoint Flint Glass Works was an immigrant from Alsace, France Christian Dorflinger who set up his first glass blowing plants in downtown Brooklyn in 1852. Benefiting from growing demand for glass between 1856 and 1860, Dorflinger, looking to expand, constructed a new factory on the then undeveloped Newtown Creek at Commercial Street in Greenpoint. This factory was larger than his other two and also enjoyed a waterfront location with docking facilities. Because this area of Greenpoint was sparsely developed, Dorflinger also built housing near the factory for his workers, many of whom were also French immigrants.

(courtesy of Friends of The Lincoln Collection)

Quickly, Dorflinger’s annual output reached $300,000, a huge sum for that era, and the quality of his glass was so highly regarded that Mary Todd Lincoln commissioned the Greenpoint firm to produce table settings for the White House. It helped to establish his company’s reputation for fine cut and engraved lead crystal. Many pieces of the Lincoln pattern glassware still remain in the White House collection today. Continue reading

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Art Hole, Cartoon Carnival and Brooklyn Soup Takedown — What’s Happening, Greenpoint? (1/16-1/22)

WEDNESDAY 1/16

♫ MUNYA, Hideout, Pueblo @ Zone One Elsewhere (599 Johnson Ave.), 7pm, $10-12, Buy Tix
* A Wild West Murder Mystery Experience @ Brooklyn Bazaar (150 Greenpoint Ave.), 8pm, $25, an 1870 whodunnit, Buy Tix
♫ Mother of Mars, Phyllis & Aristotle, Chuck Bettis @ Magick City (37 Box St.), 8pm, $10, Buy Tix
♫ Ilegal Wednesday: 2 Katies DJ Night @ Our Wicked Lady (153 Morgan Ave), 9pm, FREE, More Info

THURSDAY 1/17

♦ Wave. Particle. Duplex. by Studio SWINE Public Opening @ A/D/O (29 Norman.), 6pm, FREE, More Info
♫ Japanese Breakfast @ Brooklyn Steel (319 Frost St.) 7pm, $23, Buy Tix
♦ Art Hole’s First Birthday Party! @ Art Hole at Rubulad (Bushwick), 7:30pm, $15-20, Figure Drawing, Buy Tix
♫ Wonderwheel Recordings 15 in NYC w/ El Búho, Nickodemus & more @ The Good Room (98 Meserole Ave.), 9pm, $10-15, Buy Tix Continue reading

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1940s Greenpoint: Franklin Street

A few months ago the city released its 1940s tax photo archive of over 700,000 black and white pictures and it’s a wonderful way for history nerds to waste hours dreaming of the Greenpoint days of yore. As part of the New Deal, the Works Progress Administration employed millions of Americans on public projects, and the NYC Dept. of Taxation hired a team of photographers under the program in 1939 – 1940 to snap pictures of every building in the city for property tax assessment. Greenpointers will be posting side-by-side photos to observe changes in the neighborhood; please note that the addresses are approximate and refer to the listings from the city’s tax archive. First up, Franklin Street:

Dupont and Franklin streets in 1940 (NYC tax archive)
Dupont and Franklin streets in 2018 Google Maps)
233 Franklin St. in 1940 (NYC tax archive)
233 Franklin St. in 2018 (Google Maps)
129 Franklin St. in 1940 (NYC tax archive)
129 Franklin St. in 2018 (Google Maps)
214-218 Franklin St 1940 (NYC tax archive)
214-218 Franklin St 2018 (Google Maps)

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Behold the Yacht-Friendly Future of Greenpoint at 53 Huron Street

(Atlantis Arts Studio)

Quadrum Global filed plans this week with the Dept. of Buildings for a 14-story, 150-foot tall residential building at 53 Huron St. (also known as 161 West St.) with 173 units spanning 178,000 square feet.

The development includes 86 enclosed parking spaces and would span 278,000 square feet at West Street between Huron and Green streets. The rendering envisions a yacht-friendly future for the building on the Greenpoint waterfront, which would neighbor the 40-story tower ‘The Greenpoint.”

(Atlantis Arts Studio)

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MTA to Hold Emergency L Train Public Meeting Tuesday

The MTA is holding an emergency L train public meeting Tuesday at noon to discuss the new plans regarding the non-shutdown of the Canarsie tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The meeting will be live streamed.

Cuomo’s announcement two weeks ago rocked the Brooklyn universe and understandably upset the renters and business owners who already relocated, not to mention the community leaders who worked for three years on mitigation plans and questioned the announcements’ lack of specifics.

The L train was scheduled to see 15 – 18 months of major service disruptions beginning in April, but as the story goes, a distraught Brooklyn man pulled Cuomo’s lapel, inspiring the Governor to assemble an engineering team of experts to visit the Canarsie tunnel. Continue reading

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Polish Kotwica Symbol Sparks Debate on Usage

Kotwica flag flies high in Greenpoint (via Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union)

When Greenpointers received a tip last week that someone was allegedly passing out flyers identifying hate symbols following the discovery of hate stickers on McGuiness Blvd, we posted an image of the flyer to Instagram and began to receive many messages from local Polish residents that the Kotwica symbol should not be placed in the same category as the Swastika and other hate symbols. We also received messages insisting that the far right in Poland has recently used patriotic symbology during rallies, including the Kotwica. The local debate even received the attention of staff at the Polish Consulate in New York and the Greenpoint-based Polish and English radio station and news site, Radio Rampa, posted on the matter.

 

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With the rise in hate crimes in NYC in 2018, along with the spread of hate symbol graffiti in Brooklyn, someone is passing out flyers in Greenpoint to educate on how to identify hate symbols. We reported on an incident from last Sunday in which a Greenpointer discovered a series of hate graffiti stickers along Mcguinness Blvd. Read more at greenpointers.com ——————————— Many Polish businesses display the Kotwika symbol. It was the symbol of resistance to the fascist forces attacking Poland, then became the symbol of independence against the Soviets. It’s a symbol of great pride amongst the Polish culture that has been co-opted by a small number of fascists today.

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It’s a fact that the Kotwica is a symbol of the underground Polish resistance fighters who fought against Nazi occupation in the 1940s. The symbol to commemorate the resistance fighters is also found in Greenpoint on a flag during summer months at the Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union on McGuiness Boulevard and on a mural on Eckford Street around the corner from the Warsaw music venue.

 

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The Polish Kotwica symbol of the resistance against Nazi Germany and Russian Soviets has been misidentified as a hate symbol with the recent wave of hate crimes in Brooklyn. Earlier in the week we posted a picture of a flyer that someone was handing out in Greenpoint. The creator of the flyer placed the Kotwica symbol next to other well-known symbols of fascist groups, and we would like to clarify that the Kotwica is not a hate symbol. In fact, it can be found around Greenpoint in honor of the Polish resistance fighters who served. Every year it’s displayed on a flag at the Polish Slavic credit union on Mcguinnes Boulevard and is painted on a mural at Warsaw on Eckford Street. Scroll through and checkout the clip from @radiorampa, the Greenpoint-based Polish/English radio station.

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Ben Shahn: Williamsburg’s Greatest Artist Ever?

Ben Shahn (Courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum

Ben Shahn’s name today is obscure, but Shahn was perhaps one of the greatest artists ever to come out of Williamsburg. Born in Lithuania, Shahn grew up in the Southside in real poverty (1898-1969). Recognized during his lifetime as one of the greatest American painters of his generation, he was also a highly talented photographer, graphic artist, and lithographer.

Like many other Williamsburg celebrities, Shahn’s parents were Orthodox Jews who fled the poverty and Anti-Semitism of Eastern Europe. His father was a leftist political activist whom The Tsar’s forces arrested, imprisoned and sent to Siberia. In 1906, when Shahn was eight years old, his family immigrated to New York where they were reunited with Shahn’s father.

His artistic talent soon manifested itself. In Williamsburg, his fifth-grade teacher first noticed and encouraged his artistic development. The family, however, was very poor and despite his obvious talent, Shahn’s mother made him drop out of school at the end of the eighth-grade to work and help support the family. Shahn got a job as an apprentice in his uncle’s lithography shop, where he continued to develop his artistic ability. By age 19, Shahn had become a professional lithographer, but he was determined to learn even more, so he also started to study at New York University, the College of the City of New York, and the National Academy of Design.

Shahn’s Painting of Sacco and Vanzetti

He toured Europe as a young man and was deeply impressed with European painting, especially Cezanne and Matisse, whom he mimicked in his early work, but Shahn thankfully realized that he was an American artist, soon developing a uniquely American style of art. Later in life he called himself “the most American of all American painters.” His art, though, was highly critical of American life, often depicting American poverty and injustice.
His first fame came with his series of paintings surrounding the extremely controversial execution of the Italian immigrant anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti in Massachusetts. Shahn, like many people around the world, believed that the two men were framed for their anarchism, and he created twenty-three protests images of the trial. Many of these, including the gouache Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco became famous amongst leftists around the world. One of those leftists was Diego Rivera, the celebrated Mexican muralist, invited him to assist him in creating his famed murals for Rockefeller Center. Under Rivera’s tutelage, Shahn mastered the demanding art of fresco or painting with dry pigments on wet plaster.

Post World War II painting Continue reading

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5th Annual “Never Before Never Again” Improvisation Festival at Triskelion Arts

Guest curated by Rachel Mckinstry & Friends, Never Before Never Again is a series of performances and events dedicated to improvisation at Triskelion Arts (106 Calyer Street). The goal? Bring together improvisation-based performance artists, cross-pollinate communities, and highlight the varied possibilities and styles of improvisation.
This festival presents artists who chase the surprises and invitations that come along with improvising for an audience and who approach performance as an experiment rather than a pre-determined idea. This is an opportunity for viewer and performer to raise questions, eliminate the tight grip of expectation, and replace it with freedom, risk, and communication. This year’s festival will feature multiple weeks of performances including works by The Lovelies, Site Project, Hannah Wendel & Artists, Sarah Chien, Nicole Wolcott & Guests, and azumi O E + Sean Ali + Carlo Costa.
Never Before Never Again will also offer a variety of free workshops hosted by our festival artists. The workshops are designed to expand our investigation and understanding of improvisational forms. Workshops are open to all movers, shakers, and magic makers. All workshops will take place in Triskelion Arts’ Muriel Schulman Theater.
For a full lineup, see below, and for tickets — $18 in advance and $22 at the door — visit here.
Festival Schedule
PERFORMANCE: Thurs, January 17 at 8pm: Luther Bangert / Patrick Ferreri / indecisiveProductions / Singer Joy / Nicole Wolcott & Guests / Sarah Chien
PERFORMANCE: Fri, January 18 at 8pm: Nicole Wolcott & Guests / Sarah Chien
OPEN SESSION: Sat, January 19 at 6pm: Headlining Festival Artists & Friends along with Jason Mears (saxophone), Matteo Liberatore (guitars), and Andy Dickerson (lighting) come together to create an improvised piece. It’s an open session, an experiment; a laboratory; an invitation for viewer and performer.
PERFORMANCE: Sat, January 19 at 8pm: Nicole Wolcott & Guests / Sarah Chien
WORKSHOP: Sun, January 20 | 12-2pm  FREE! — BE MOVED TO EMBODY DEMOCRACY hosted by The Lovelies
PERFORMANCE: Thurs, January 24 at 8pm: G^2 / BREAKTIME / Laurel Synder / The Lovelies / Site Project
PERFORMANCE: Fri, January 25 at 8pm: The Lovelies / Site Project
PERFORMANCE: Sat, January 26 at 8pm: The Lovelies / Site Project
WORKSHOP: Sun, January 27 | 2-4pm  FREE! – Who is this body? hosted by Laurel Snyder
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The Lasting Gifts to Greenpoint From the Man Cheated out of the U.S. Presidency

Samuel Tilden

Looking for a great local trivia question? Which two men associated with Greenpoint ran for president of the United States? The answer: Samuel Tilden who was cheated in the election of 1876 and Charles Evans Hughes, who lived on Milton Street, who lost in 1916.

If you are a Brooklynite you might have heard of Tilden High School, but few people know anything about this important figure in local and state history. Although he is a forgotten figure today, few men did more to help New York State. Tilden was first elected to the New York State Assembly in 1846, and few legislators in state history did more good. He used his position to expose corruption in state government, most notably through the impeachment of New York State Supreme Court Justices George G. Barnard, Albert Cardozo, and John H. McCunn.

His exposure of corruption within the U.S. Customs House was soon overshadowed by his most famous political achievement: the exposure and prosecution of the Tweed Ring, led by William M. “Boss” Tweed whose name lives down through the ages as a symbol of Tammany Hall Corruption. Tweed introduced a new city charter, which would further consolidate his corrupt hold on power, but Tilden, as chairman of the Democratic State Committee, denounced him and began a pitched battle to disable the Ring and end Tweed’s corrupt practices. Tilden’s successful prosecution of the Tweed Ring paved the way for his election as Governor in 1874. Two years later, Tilden became the Democratic nominee for president and probably won the election, but his own party sold him out in the corrupt bargain of 1876 that ended Reconstruction.

National Democratic chart in 1876 with candidates Samuel J. Tilden, and Thomas A. Hendricks (via PICRYL)

In the 1850s Tilden became one of the most successful corporate lawyers in America and a rich man. He also invested in Greenpoint real estate. The piece of land Tilden bought covered an area from Oak Street to Noble Street and ran from the river to Leonard Street. Tilden helped Greenpoint and increased the value of his real estate through his efforts in Albany supporting the bill allowing Neziah Bliss to open a ferry to Manhattan.
Tilden sold off his holdings piece by piece in the 1870s and he must have profited massively from these sales. He sold a piece at the top of Milton Street to Thomas Smith, the millionaire ceramicist whose home became the Greenpoint Reformed Church.

Union Baptist Church (via Google Maps)

However, today we remember Tilden more for his charity than for his wealth. He was one of the founders of the New York Public Library System, but his charity had many positive local effects too. He believed that Greenpoint should have churches. He gave a cut-rate price to the congregation of the Noble Street Baptist Church (known as Union Baptist Church), allowing them in 1860 to build their landmarked red brick home. He also owned the land on which St. Anthony of Padua sits. Although not a Catholic himself, he gave Bishop Loughlin a sweetheart deal, charging the church for only one of five lots they purchased on Manhattan Avenue and Leonard Street. The stately church was built in 1874.

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Meet Undefeated Heavyweight Contender Adam ‘Babyface’ Kownacki Tuesday (1/15)

Adam “Babyface”Kownacki

Greenpointer and undefeated heavyweight contender Adam ‘Babyface’ Kownacki (18-0, 14 KOs) faces former title challenger Gerald Washington (19-2, 12 KOs) in the co-main event taking place at Barclays Center on Jan. 26.
You’re invited to the pre-fight meet and greet on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 6.p.m. at Greenpoint’s Amber Steakhouse (119 Nassau Ave.).

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