Ash Street was named after the ash trees that once grew here, as was Oak Street. Box street was named after the box factories, which were once an important local industry. Clay Street could be named for Henry Clay who was an important Senator who kept the union together by working out the Compromise of 1850 or it could be named after a local 17th century pirate (yes, pirate!) called Humphrey Clay who settled down to run an early local ferry and was an associate of Captain Kidd. DuPont Street is named for Admiral Samuel DuPont, a hero of the Mexican War who commanded the first ever ironclad armada during the Cvil War. Why no L street? Well there was once a Lincoln Street that later became Greenpoint Avenue. Rumor is that local Democrats did not like the name of a Republican President and changed it.
West Street is not named after Mae West, but instead was named because it is the westernmost street in our area. Some streets take their names from the original Huguenot farmers of the area. The Meseroles had an orchard and the Calyers were another ancestral family as were the Provosts.
There are streets named for locally important people, who are now forgotten. Opened in 1852, Kent Street was named after a noted jurist and first professor of Law at Columbia College and Chancellor of The New York Court of Chancerey, James Kent. Lorimer Street is Named after James Lorimer Graham who along with his brother was an active real estate developer in Williamsburg. Noble Street takes its name from the 1842 Trustee of The Village of Williamsburg, James Noble. Driggs Avenue was named after Edmund Driggs, last President of the Village of Williamsburg. Humboldt Street was named after the brilliant German academic Alexander Von Humboldt. Guernsey Street honors a local medical doctor Dr. Egbert Guernsey, founder of The Williamsburg Daily Times. Banker Street honors Edward Banker who purchased and developed local property. Samuel Leonard was the Superintendent of schools who built P.S. 34.
Manhattan Avenue used to be called Orchard Avenue because it went through the Meserole Orchard. At one time there was a bridge at the end of Newtown Creek that led to Long Island City; Greenpointers had to travel down this avenue to get to Manhattan. Franklin Street led to Williamsburg, which was first surveyed by the grandson of Benjamin Franklin, Jonathon Williams, so the name of the street honors the man on the hundred dollar bill. McGuinnness Boulevard used to be called Oakland Street, but was renamed to honor the legendary boss of Greenpoint, Peter J. McGuinness.
A few names still stump me: Russell Street, North Henry Street and Engert Street amongst others. If you know the origin of the names please let us know.
Curious to know about Green Street.
My grandmother lived at 72 Green St for many years. My mother grew up there as well. I lived at the same address as a child.
My grandfather and uncle were both longshoreman and worked down at the docks. 🙂
I would think living in Greenpoint they named Green street in relation to the Green point, which was a spit of green land that stuck out into the East River, not far away at the end of what is today Freeman Street.
Was curious about Green St too and it was so cool to find this comment! I lived at 72 Green St (#2R) for 5 years and just left last year. I miss it all the time.
I lived at 72 Green Street too!
What about Graham Avenue?
John and James Lorimer Graham were real estate guys who sold a lot
of what became Williamsburg
Wasnt G reenpoint also known as THE END OF THE PICKLE..I used to hear my parents whom were born and raised there as was I,call it that.
I have heard that Greenpoint was once called pickletown because there were a lot of pickle plants here.
Not sure. Sorry
I lived on Vandervoort Ave. in Greenpoint (near the tanks) for 34 years. Also before that on Beadle St. around the corner. What is origin of those names?
Moses Beadle was a revolutionary war hero who died in prison. I believe that the Vandervoorts were one of the early farming families in Greenpoint.
I grew up on Sutton Street! Thanks for all this incredible information!
How about Newel Street?
Got me. Not so sure where the name comes from.
Looking for that one myself
This was really interesting! Thank you.
What about Eagle st or Broom st.
Eagle was named for the Brooklyn Eagle the newspaper of Brooklyn, but I cannot tell you about Broom.
Thank you, from Eagle myself.
Ambrose Kingsland was a merchant who bought farmland in Greenpoint and became mayor of New York.
It was Opened in 1852, named after a noted lawyer and the first professor of Law at Columbia College and the Chancellor of The New York Court of Chancerey, James Kent (1763-1847).
Thank you Geoff Cobb, I grew up in Greenpoint, (Franklin & Oak) I always knew it was Rich in History…just not to this extent…awesome.
Hi Diane, Glad you liked the article. I live around the corner from where you grew up.
You might enjoy my book about Greenpoint history Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past.
You say that Manhattan Avenue was once Orchard Avenue. There is an original stone on a building at Ainslie Street and Manhattan Avenue that shows the strret name was once Ewen. Do you know anything about this? Thank you
Calyer was one of the five Huguenot families that farmed Greenpoint. Jacobus Calyer fought in the battle of Brooklyn.
It’s Engert ave. not street
Not sure about that one. There was a Dimon ship yard here. Maybe a connection?
Thank you.very good. Herbert st.
Wonderful article…always interested in our street names(we live on Java St for six decades)…just want to ask…there is a sign on the corner of Kent St and Manhattan Ave that say UNION st ( ithink its street)…haven’t heard anything about that
North Henry Street (Brooklyn) was just regular Henry Street in the independent town of Greenpoint. But that changed in 1855, when Greenpoint — and its neighbors Williamsburg(h) and Bushwick — were annexed into the city of Brooklyn. Dozens of old street names were changed when the annexation took place. Here’s a lengthy list of other altered names. Since the southern Henry Street was the ‘original’ Henry Street of Brooklyn, this one got a North stuck to it.
I’m curious about Classon Avenue. don’t know if it is located in this area, though…
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this Greenpoint history. My family were originally from Guernsey St. I grew up on Manhattan Ave., after marrying we lived on Guernsey then Milton St.
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