Greenpoint became home to five industrial “black arts” in the 19th century, and one of those black arts was glass production. (Printing, pottery making, oil refining, and cast iron manufacturing are the others.) Our area became one of the first places in the United States where artistic glass was produced. Some of the finest pieces of glass ever smelted in America were locally produced, and today they are still prized pieces in museums around the country.
One of the most famous nineteenth century glass factories—the Greenpoint Glass Works—was located at 95 Commercial Street. Founded about 1852 by Christian Dorflinger (1828-1915), an immigrant from Alsace. He Started in Manhattan, but needing more space expanded his now sizable workshop to the edge of Newtown Creek in 1860. Greenpoint Glass Works was larger than his other two plants and also enjoyed a waterfront location with docking facilities. The operation also included kilns and a large assembly line. Because this area of Greenpoint was sparsely developed, Dorflinger had to build housing near the factory for his workers, many of whom were French. Continue reading