Thursday Spotlight: Tony Wolf’s “Greenpoint of View” Reexamines and Celebrates Neighborhood

An illustration by Tony Wolf

History books should be written as comics. In his 20+ years in Greenpoint, illustrator Tony Wolf witnessed a multitude of changes in the neighborhood, whimsically capturing the effects of gentrification and hipsterdom in his cartoon serials. But even as Tony traced the evolution in the neighborhood, one thing remains constant: his unflappable wonder for Greenpoint, and the unbreakable sense of community that connects its residents. Through his Greenpoint of View comics, he elevates a lazy stroll through McCarren Park into something majestic, and documents the dawn of a new era via the arrival of Enid’s.

Outside of his Greenpoint of View passion project, Tony is also a voice-over actor, performer, and freelance cartoonist with bylines in The New York TimesNow, even as Tony has relocated (he’s moved all the way to Hoboken, but he’s a truer Greenpointer than most at heart), he still aims to continue his Greenpoint of View series — be on the lookout for more soon! Below, we discuss what bars should be revived, his favorite restaurants, and how he made friends on — you guessed it — the G Train. 

Greenpointers: How did Enids’ arrival signal a greater shift in the tone of neighborhoods like Greenpoint?
Tony Wolf: From my perspective, Enid’s was the very first “young cool artsy people” bar that I saw open in Greenpoint, shortly after I moved there in fall 1996. (I think The Pencil Factory bar over by Greenpoint Ave may have been open a bit before Enid’s, but in my experience, once Enid’s opened, it signaled a sea change in the culture of the neighborhood. The young bohemian types were staking their claim, and much fun was to be had. Prior to that, it was a neighborhood comprised mostly of (from what I could tell) older eastern Europeans.

A moment from Tony’s first Greenpoint of View story

GP: Do you have a favorite spot in Greenpoint?   

TW: I love McCarren Park a lot — so much so that I devoted a good deal of my second comic story to it.  The park is really beautiful, even when it was less populated. I also like the warehouse over by Milton Street. McGolrick Park is also pretty cool. The G train entrance at Nassau Avenue always feels very iconic to me, and I love Manhattan Avenue (which to me is like the “Broadway” of the neighborhood, in that it’s the main street). Scalino GP and Sauvage are my favorite restaurants there — Cherry Point is also a brilliant newer entry into the Greenpoint food scene.
GP: You’ve seen the neighborhood evolve a bit. Which Greenpoint bar/restaurant/store would you most want to revive?      
TW: The Manhattan Inn was an exceptionally fun place and well-run bar, with great food and equally great music — the dance parties that erupted there were legendary, and for a time, the food was exceptional. The terrific atmosphere was soon spoiled by what seemed like a neglectful management, and the quality of everything started to rapidly deteriorate. So I’d like to bring back The Manhattan Inn at its classic levels of quality! Also, let’s bring back Matchless, shall we?
A closeup image from Greenpoint of View number 3 about the comic book store that has origins in Greenpoint
GP: What do you miss most about the neighborhood? What have been the perks of moving away?
I miss the great artistic culture and the food — the restaurants there are really something special.  As for moving away, Hoboken is a bit quieter, and the commute to Hoboken (to my shock) is not any longer than the commute from Greenpoint to midtown Manhattan! The big perk of moving away was moving in with my amazing girlfriend, Jen. We still have a number of friends in the ‘Point, and we visit when we can, always making sure to go to our favorite restaurants.
GP: Any other horrific G Train stories? Any positive ones?
I have far more positive/fun G train stories than negative ones, thankfully. I always said that, like many things in life, the G train may have its limitations, but you just have to get to know it and learn to work with them/work around them. I made a great friend on the G train, when he was reading a comic book one day — it was a pretty obscure comic (Grant Morrison’s “The Invisibles” series), so I figured anyone reading that might be fun to start a conversation with. He and I discovered, after being “train buddies” for a few months, that we lived literally right next to each other! We are still good friends, and that was about eight years ago that we met on the train.  Eventually I had quite a number of “train buddies” on my morning commute!
A frame from Tony’s fourth Greenpoint of View about a G train trip gone rogue

About Billy McEntee

Billy McEntee has been fortunate to work for arts non-profits in Boston, Denver, Berkeley, and now New York. His writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Brooklyn Magazine, Indiewire, HowlRound, Eclectica Magazine, and others. He's usually getting wine at Dandelion or eating cookies at Archestratus.

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