Local settlement houses have a long and honorable history in North Brooklyn and they have served as a cultural and educational oasis for generations of local youths. Still, many people might not fully appreciate the historic and current role settlement houses play in our area.
Settlement houses first appeared in England in 1884. Several young graduates from Oxford and Cambridge saw that the working class had little access to education or to culture, so they opened the first settlement house and hoped to share their knowledge and culture with their low-paid, poorly educated neighbors. The idea quickly spread to America where millions of illiterate, or semi-literate, immigrants with little or no English language skills began to populate the nation’s cities.
Many middle-class Americans feared that these immigrants and their children posed a danger to American culture and democracy. Something had to be done to help “Americanize” these newcomers and the settlement house quickly became the answer.
In 1889, Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr founded the famous Hull House Settlement House on Chicago’s west side. Hull House served the needs of recently arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe and it served as a model for approximately five hundred similar institutions that sprang up around the country.
Two settlement houses based on Hull House were founded in North Brooklyn. One was funded by Brooklyn’s richest man, Charles Pratt, on the ground floor of his model apartment building, The Astral Apartments, which still stands on Franklin Street and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The settlement house in the building ran a kindergarten, English language classes, home economics courses and civics classes for many of the newly arrived immigrants from Poland, Russia, Lithuania, and Italy.
Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 (Greenpoint and Williamsburg) will hold its monthly public meeting tonight (5/14) at the Swinging 60’s Senior Center at 211 Ainslie St. starting at 6 p.m. The meeting will be live-streamed here and the agenda is as follows:
A group of Greenpoint residents have reported smelling oil and petroleum vapors recently in their apartments and will hold a meeting this week with local elected officials and concerned neighbors to “work toward a solution.”
If you live in the vicinity of Freeman, Green, and Huron streets and would like to learn more or share your story a meeting hosted by the North Brooklyn Neighbors will take place at the Dupont Street Senior Housing Center (80 Dupont St.) on Tuesday, May 7th, from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Both the city Department of Environmental Protection and the state Department of Environmental Conservation have been investigating the potential source of the alleged vapors and conducted sewer inspections in Greenpoint last week, according to Benjamin Solotaire of Council Member Stephen Levin’s office.
The agencies sampled the air at six manholes and found one manhole on Freeman Street that has evidence of petroleum product. Here are the full details: Continue reading →
The Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park and Riverkeeper are hosting their 8th annual Riverkeeper Sweep this weekend to help clear debris from the Brooklyn waterfront and garden near the East River shore; registration is required.
Volunteers are invited to help in the planting and shore cleanup on Saturday, May 4th, from 10 a.m -1 p.m.:
Volunteers will meet at the Bushwick Inlet Park Community Building, (North 9th Street & Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211), where street parking will be available. We ask all Sweep volunteers to wear sturdy shoes or boots, clothing that they can get dirty, and to bring work gloves, a hat, sunscreen, a reusable water bottle and snacks. This site is suitable for elementary-aged children with proper adult supervision.
The Greenpoint Film Festival is back this week for its 8th edition with four days of film screenings — spanning topics from environmentalism to displacement and gentrification — and panel discussion with directors and local experts. Tickets are available here, along with the festival schedule which runs May 2nd – May 5th.
This year the festival kicks off on Thursday May 2nd, at the Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Ave.) with a 7 p.m. screening of “100/100” and “Rodney Dickson,” which invites the view to “look inside the studio, routines and life of Brooklyn-based artist Rodney Dickson as he works “along the edge” of art and seeks to push the boundaries of how it can and should be experienced.” A kickoff party will follow at the Wythe Hotel from 9 p.m. – 12 p.m.
On Friday night, a focus on experimental film brings screenings of “Proliferation,” an isometric animation short, “Blue Reverie,” which presents commentary on internet personas, and “The Washing Society” an “intimate sociohistorical portrait of an urban laundromat using the people who worked there for decades,” from filmmaker Lynne Sachs.
The narrative feature “Doing Money,” kicks things off on Saturday at 2 p.m. with a drama based on a true story that tells the story of a Romanian Woman who is “snatched off the streets of London in broad daylight, trafficked through a series of pop-up brothels in the UK.”
The narrative shorts “Picket Fence” and “You Look Great” follow ahead of “Barney’s Wall” that recalls the life of Barney Rosset, “the American publisher of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Tropic of Cancer, Naked Lunch, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, among hundreds of other subversive, radical and vital literary works.”
Saturday’s programming at the Wythe Hotel wraps with the documentary feature “Jacob,” that follows Jacob M. Appel, who “is a recognized professor, doctor, lawyer, bioethicist, and published creative writer.”
Also happening on Saturday as part of the festival is the Pratt student film screenings taking place at Film Noir Cinema (122 Meserole Ave.) starting at 7 p.m.
The spotlight turns to the festival’s namesake neighborhood on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. with the screening of a short on Manhattan Avenue’s Cato’s Army and Navy Store that owner Ed Veneziano opened over 40 years ago, and “A Letter From Greenpoint,” which traces Jonas Mekas move from SoHo after 30 years in the neighborhood to Greenpoint. Continue reading →
Maybe it is just me, but I find McGuinness Boulevard ugly. Huge trucks and streams of traffic wiz by the four-laned, soulless traffic artery. The newer apartment buildings lack the quaint charm of many of Greenpoint’s other streets, but this was not always so.
Once McGuinness Boulevard was not a boulevard at all, it was named Oakland Street; a narrow charming cobblestoned lane lined by wood frame 19th-century homes typical of our area.
Oakland Street would become a victim to a vision of New York City as a city of cars and trucks. The destruction of Oakland Street was only a small piece in the grand scheme of Robert Moses who built the BQE, the Tri-borough Bridge, and the Cross-Bronx Expressway. Thousands of homes across the city fell victim to Moses’ vision.
The Municipal Art Society of New York is bringing back Jane’s Walk NYC, which is part of “a global festival of free, volunteer-led walking conversations inspired by urban activist Jane Jacobs,” with tours happening in all five boroughs this weekend. See the tours happening in Greenpoint and Williamsburg:
Join author of ” The Rise and Fall of the Sugar King” Geoffrey Cobb as he explains the history of the Domino plant, which was the largest sugar refinery in the world and the linchpin in the “Sugar Trust.” The tour focuses on the brutal conditions for the thousands of workers who toiled and died working in the landmarked building now undergoing a controversial luxury renovation.
Written into the rezoning of the Williamsburg-Greenpoint’s waterfront was a promise of a park. Ever since area residents have steadily chanted; “Where’s Our Park?!”
Join Lynn del Sol, a native New Yorker and twenty year resident of the area, in a discussion about the rezoning North Brooklyn’s waterfront and what happens when city government, private interest, and community residents duel over two miles of land.