From the Archives: Historical Photos of Greenpoint

“Ash Street.” Date unknown, via NYPL

While it’s true the more things change the more they stay the same, the changes certainly outnumber the sameness in these vintage photos of Greenpoint. The sameness is enough for the streets to be recognizable, but the full throttle industrial landscape paired with the lack of development and people makes it clear these images were created in another world.

Some of the photographs are dated by their car models and aboveground telephone lines, others by their empty lots and the old school formal fashion. Take a look, and see if you can guess the photos’ locations without reading the caption. 

“Logan Iron Works, Manufacturers Of High And Low Pressure Boilers And Tanks, Of All Descriptions.” Date unknown, via NYPL

“Public library, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, N.Y.” A postcard printed in Germany, 1912, via NYPL
“East River – Shore and skyline – Williamsburg Bridge – Newtown Creek – [American Export Lines.]” 1929, via NYPL
“Greenpoint Ave., west from West Street. In the foreground, is the City of New York Municipal Ferry to 23rd Street, Manhattan.” 1929, via NYPL
“West Street, north from Greenpoint Ave.” 1930, via NYPL
“Norman Ave., at the N.E corner of Eckford Street.” 1935, via NYPL
“Greenpoint Avenue, at the N.E. corner of Provost Street, showing a factory manufacturing hats and selling direct to the public.” 1939, via NYPL
“90 Dupont St.” Photo by Dinanda Nooney, 1978. Via NYPL


  1. Erik Klein says:

    Love seeing these historical views!

    However, 2 of the West Street photos are misidentified as Greenpoint in the NYPL titles.

    The West street photos are of West street in lower Manhattan.

    • Hannah Frishberg says:

      I’ve updated the post with two photos of West Street in Greenpoint, thanks for catching that! Bizarre NYPL mislabeled those, I’ve never seen them so egregiously misidentify their archives before

  2. Geoff Cobb says:

    The two pictures of West Street are not in Greenpoint. They are in Manhattan along the Hudson River. We never had huge piers like those. They were meant to accommodate cruise ships and our area never had cruise ships Two other pictures are of Queens, not Greenpoint.

    • Hannah Frishberg says:

      Thanks for catching that – I should’ve realized. I’ve updated the post with two photos which actually depict Greenpoint’s West Street. I included the Queens photos because they had partial views of Greenpoint, but I’ve updated them with photos in Greenpoint proper.

    • paul says:

      yeah those west street pics looked fishy…there was a building on the NW corner of the intersection that was never there, also on the south east corner there was a gas station not a bldg…

  3. Geoff Cobb says:

    The first picture cannot be 1887. Look at the skyscrapers in the background!

  4. Tom Layden says:

    Currently the N.Y. public library is on Leonard & Ecford where was the one pictured located

    • Roger Owens says:

      That Postcard is a misprint. that image is actually on Fourth Ave (street) in another part of Brooklyn.

    • Thomas Mcginn says:

      Hi, Tom – The new library is on the n.e. corner of Norman and Leonard, the old library pictured here was on the same spot’

  5. Doug Rand says:

    In 1964 I “ran away to sea” on the MS Clary Thorden. Our first call after leaving Boston was the Greenpoint pier by the corner of Java and West Streets. The JAVA WEST BAR was our social center. Sometimes walking to the subway, an early teen girl would be seated at a card table with two chairs and a deck. She systematically lightened many sailors wallets.


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