(Not)Forgotten Greenpoint

Greenpoint History Walking Tour to Benefit the Park Church Co-op Saturday (7/7)

Historical Map of Greenpoint courtesy of Dennis Ward

Beloved neighborhood worship/art space, the Park Church Co-op (129 Russell St.) has put out a fundraising call to the community. Ace local historian, and Greenpointers contributor, Geoff Cobb has answered that call in a fantastically innovative way! He’ll lead a donation-based historical walking tour of Greenpoint on Saturday, July 7th from 10-11am, and donate all proceeds to the Park Church Co-op.

The tour will meet at the corner of Calyer and Franklin. All are welcome! RSVP here.

What: Walking Tour with Geoff Cobb on Behalf of the Park Church Co-op
When: Saturday, July 7, at 10am.
Where: Franklin and Calyer
Who: Everyone!

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Bask in the History of Greenpoint’s Basque Club

Greenpoint's Basque Club 307 Eckford
Greenpoint’s Basque Club at 307 Eckford

Greenpoint is well known for its Polish herritage, but New York’s Basque community also calls Greenpoint home. Since 1973, Euzko-Etxea, the Basque Club of New York, has maintained its headquarters at 307 Eckford Street. The group’s mission is to preserve Basque culture in the lives of immigrants and their descendants, and to share Basque culture and heritage with the community at large.  To that end, Euzko-Etxea and offers Basque language classes, traditional Basque dancing, and pintxos (or tapas) on special occasions at the converted two story church on Eckford Street.  Continue reading

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Before L-pocalypse: A History of Transit in North BK

B.R.C.C. Crosstown Trolley, Via the Transit Museum
B.C.R.R. Crosstown Trolley, Via the New York Transit Museum

As the MTA’s planned 15-month suspension of L train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan draws near, all 200,000 daily riders of the L-pocalypse have been asking the same question: how will we get across the river? Brooklynites have been asking that question for generations, and personal ingenuity, along with municipal planning, has yielded several answers. All we can say for sure is that this is not the first time aggrieved Greenpointers have been up in arms over inadequate inter-borough transit. I’m just glad we don’t have to take a rowboat.

The rowboat commute was the first in a line increasingly efficient methods of getting from Greenpoint to Manhattan that includes horsecars, trollies, ferry services, elevated trains, and the dawn and growth of the subway. Step in, stand clear and read on for a history of transit in North Brooklyn.   Continue reading

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Julia Wertz’s Triumphant Illustrated History of New York City

Full disclosure—I have been a fan of Julia Wertz‘s amazing graphic work long before the publication of her recent smash hit entitled Tenements, Towers and Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City, so let’s forget objectivity. I discovered Julia’s prodigious talent through her work in the New Yorker. Although I have never met Julia we have exchanged emails and we are kindred spirits, bonded by our mutual love for New York City and its rich past.

Perhaps the biggest gulf separating us as writers is Julia’s prodigious talent as an illustrator, which makes her book such a joy to read from beginning to end. (My drawings make my students either laugh in ridicule or cringe.) It is not just how she sketches, but what she draws that makes her book so close to my heart. She has done excellent renderings of many of the quirky places in New York that I love and teaches me things about those places I never knew. Continue reading

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An Ode to the Manhattan Avenue Holiday Lights

We were inspired to make this video after reading the wonderful story of the Manhattan Avenue businesses’ commitment to reignite the holiday lights this year here on Greenpointers.com (check out the article here). Having relocated to Greenpoint ourselves just under two years ago, it is truly an inspiration to move into a community that not only supports its new residents, but strives so adamantly to maintain connections to its rich history. We felt that the business owners of Manhattan Ave. and other contributors deserve a sincere thank you for all their hard work this year. This is our way of giving back to them by telling their story. Our hope is to inspire more people to participate next year and keep the tradition alive for a new generation.

We hope you enjoy, and Happy Holidays.

Coolburns & Co.

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How Much Greenpoint History Do You Know? Take This Quiz!

1851 view of Brooklyn Navy Yard looking north towards Greenpoint
1851 view of Brooklyn Navy Yard looking north towards Greenpoint

Our little neighborhood of Greenpoint has some very rich history, and we’ve posted about a lot of it. But how much do you really know about this small patch of earth you rest your head on? Take our quiz and find out! Answers after the jump (no peeking!).

1) Dirck Volckertszen was the first European to live in Greenpoint. Where was he from?

2) Greenpoint once was called by another name that today is a popular Manhattan Avenue Restaurant. What was the name of that point?

3) There were five ancestral families in Greenpoint that gave their names to streets. Name two of the three.

4) What local group of Native Americans used Greenpoint as their hunting ground and gave their name to a Queens neighborhood?

5) Who is considered the founder of Greenpoint?

6) What American Vice-President once visited Greenpoint on a romantic tryst?

7) What was Greenpoint’s first industry? (Hint: a local hill was named for it).

8) What part of Greeenpoint did the British Army use as a staging area to attack Manhattan during the Revolution?

9) What industry dominated the local waterfront in the 1850’s?

10) What famous ship was built in 1861 on Quay Street?

11) Charles Pratt became rich refining oil. What was his refinery called?

12) A Greenpoint baseball team won the national championship twice? What was the team called?

13) Local boxer Jake Kilrain lost the last bare knuckled heavyweight boxing championship in 1889 to what boxing legend?

14) What Greenpoint-born writer is credited with inventing the modern children’s book?

15) What Hollywood sex symbol was born on Herbert Street?

16) What nickname did Pete McGuinness give Greenpoint?

17) What iconic American statue was cast on India Street?

18) What Greenpointer lost the 1916 presidential election to Woodrow Wilson?

19) What local school is the oldest continually-used public school in New York City?

20) What was Oakland Street renamed?

Continue reading

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Theobald Engelhardt: Iconic North Brooklyn Architect

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-1-59-00-pm
St. John’s Lutheran Church on Milton Street is one of Engelhardt’s most recognizable buildings in Greenpoint.

You certainly know his buildings, but probably do not know his name. Theobald Engelhardt played a huge role in shaping our local architectural heritage. His buildings are local landmarks and some of our most gorgeous buildings are his handiwork, yet few people today realize his important local legacy.

Timing can mean the difference between success and failure, and Engelhardt began his career just as a local building boom was hitting Greeenpoint. Born in Williamsburg in 1851, Engelhardt—a German-American—came of age just as German influence in this area was at its peak. Engelhardt became one of Brooklyn’s most prolific architects, designing hundreds of structures that include a range of buildings from factories and churches to stores and homes. Continue reading

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When Greenpoint Won the World Series (Well, Sort Of)

screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-4-53-13-pmIt’s late October and all the baseball fans will be glued to the World Series. Homer Murray and other Cubs fans will go nuts if the Cubs finally win the world Series, but even many of the most passionate Greenpoint baseball fans are aware that a local team, the Eckford Club was the best team in America before the organization of professional baseball.

Organized in 1855, the Eckford Club won the national championship in 1862 and 1863 in the days when baseball was still an amateur sport. The players were shipwrights who worked in the shipyard of Eckford Webb, at the foot of Milton Street. Although they had little time to practice on account of the sixty-hour weeks they worked, the Eckford players succeeded nevertheless because shipbuilding made them incredibly fit and strong. Continue reading

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Historical Walking Tour of Greenpoint This Saturday!

greenpoint walking tourWHAT: Greenpoint Walking Tour
WHEN: Saturday, October 22, 2:00-4:30 pm

Join veteran Brooklyn tour guide Norman Oder on a briskly-paced, wide-ranging introduction to the neighborhood, including historic blocks, converted historic buildings, commercial corridors, religious institutions, parks, and civic buildings. The tour will touch on industrial history, immigration (notably Greenpoint’s enduring Polish presence), and the current (and future) signs of gentrification.

You should RSVP to [email protected] to reserve your spot! Continue reading

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Greenpoint Diaries: “My Job At The Greenpoint Weekly Star”

Editor’s note: We’ve paired up a true story from Sara Jane Burman, an 80-year-old former resident of Greenpoint who grew up here, with local illustrator Aubrey Nolan.

Illustration by Aubrey Nolan
When I was a fourteen year old girl, I lived at 460 Graham Avenue, near what we used to called ” The Boulevard”. Now it is Meeker-Morgan.
Illustration by Aubrey Nolan
I loved to walk to the Greenpoint Public Library on Norman Avenue. I was another Francie Nolan, even before I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I spent hours in that magical place, and could not quite believe I could borrow those lovely books.
Illustration by Aubrey Nolan
I also liked to write.
Illustration by Aubrey Nolan
One day, I passed the Offices of the now defunct Greenpoint Weekly Star. We purchased it every week, and my mother liked to submit notices of school activities.
Illustration by Aubrey Nolan
She began when my tow headed twin brothers began First Grade in St. Cecilia’s School. There were three sets of twins who were in the First Grade, and Mom thought that was a newsworthy piece. So it was.
Illustration by Aubrey Nolan
I walked up to the Editor who was standing behind the front desk in their storefront office. My memory is hazy about what I said to him at first, but I remember clearly that he offered me a job writing for The Star. He told me I would be paid ten cents an inch for my writing.
I wrote a few pieces on local events. After I had submitted a few, the Editor asked if I would like to cover some evening meetings in Greenpoint. I knew my mother wouldn’t allow me to do this, so I politely declined, and offered my resignation. I asked for my salary. I was very surprised at how little it was.
Illustration by Aubrey Nolan
“You told me I would get ten cents an inch,” I complained.
“Yeah, Girlie. That’s right. Vertically, not horizontally!”
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