This Saturday (June 3rd), you can tour the beautiful rooftop at Kingsland Wildflowers (520 Kingsland Ave), learn about the future of Newtown Creek at a community visioning workshop, and take a look back to its industrial roots with local historian Mitch Waxman. These events are all free and open to the public.
Schedule of Events:
1-4pm Community Visioning with Riverkeeper and NCA, RSVP
5-7pm Lecture and Kingsland Wildflowers Green Roof Tour with Mitch Waxman, NCA Historian, RSVP
Join Riverkeeper and the Newtown Creek Alliance in creating a cohesive community vision for Newtown Creek. With a Superfund cleanup and long-term plan to control sewage overflows on the horizon, now is an opportune time to engage stakeholders in imagining and designing a future Newtown Creek that provides greater opportunities for restoration, remediation, recreation, and resilience. RSVP
On Friday everyone becomes Irish for a day—at least in the local bars, but Greenpoint actually has a long and colorful Irish history. The first Irish came to Greenpoint way back in the 1850s. Like many of the others who arrived here then, the Irish were lured by jobs in the booming shipbuilding business. An 1855 Greenpoint census revealed that about thirty percent of the locals were Irish born. Other Irish soon followed to work in the many factories and refineries that sprung up locally after the Civil War.
In 1864 Captain James McAllister, from County Antrim, Northern Ireland, started his maritime transport company with a single sail lighter, but it was the perfect time and place to open such a business. McAllister soon got more work than he could handle transporting the oil of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. He brought over many of his family and neighbors from his hometown Cushendall, Co. Antrim and many of the present day Irish families in Greenpoint have Cushendall roots. Quickly the Irish dominated the waterfront and worked the many nautical and longshoremen jobs along the bustling East River and Newtown Creek shorelines. One of these Irish-American longshoremen was the colorful Pete McGuinness, “The King of Greenpoint,” for whom McGuinness Boulevard is named. He later entered politics and ran the area as the last old style Irish ward boss until his death in 1948. Continue reading →
It was just about noon on October 6, 1950—a day seemingly like any other day in Greenpoint—but five minutes later all hell would break loose. America was at the height of the Red Scare and news that the Soviets had the bomb was in everyone’s mind. Constant air raid drilling and the creation of local fallout shelters in the case of nuclear war only heightened anxiety even higher.
Suddenly a massive ear splitting explosion at Huron and Manhattan Avenue occurred causing terror. The power of the blast was so great that it blew manhole covers fifty feet in the air like champagne corks and a ten foot section of the street was vaporized. A reinforced concrete sewer was blown to pieces. Five hundred windows were shattered by the powerful explosion as blue flame belched from the manholes. Continue reading →
What’s more adorable than kids being kids…next to cardboard cutouts of kids whose heyday was more than a century ago?
In celebration of the 120th anniversary school year of The Monitor School (PS110), the neighborhood kids recently observed Historical Photo Day.
For this occasion, each class posed with a cardboard cutout of a class photo from 120 years ago. But it was a thoughtful pose, because the kids spent a week leading up to the photo shoot analyzing the historical photo and talking about the things they have in common with the kids of yesteryear (not to mention what sets them apart). Continue reading →
Greenpoint’s only outdoor/online radio station, The Lot Radio, is hosting a series of events with their neighbors the San Damiano Mission. Join them this Saturday evening for a special performance of 67Yarc.info, an interactive multimedia project by Joakim, followed by an ambient live set, befitting to the pious venue.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, North Brooklyn was the largest place for refining sugar in the world and Brooklyn’s largest industry. Although Williamsburg refined far more sugar than Greenpoint, the Havemeyer refinery at 85 Commercial Street on Newtown Creek was one of the most important American sugar refineries and was the scene of a near riot when the refinery’s workers fought for better conditions in 1886.
The members of the Havemeyer family were the crown princes of sugar. Multi-millionaire Henry Havemeyer formed an illegal cartel of sugar refiners around the United States that blocked competition, colluded to lower the amount of sugar refined and raised the price to consumers, while making all the refiners in the cartel spectacularly rich. He used his vast sugar money to buy a thousand pieces of art, which later became the basis of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection. Continue reading →
For decades the remains of the American Manufacturing Company buildings around West and Noble have stood, hulking and vacant, as a reminder of Greenpoint’s industrial past. Now all that is rapidly changing. Part of it is the Brooklyn Expo Center. Another building houses a furniture store. Part of the long vacant rope works is being transformed into a luxury hotel.
At one point the company occupied sixteen buildings and was Brooklyn’s largest employer with four thousand people, mostly females. The great local writer Margaret Wise Brown’s father was Vice President of the firm, but the majority of the people who worked there were newly arrived immigrant women who worked fifty-six hour weeks for low wages, making rope. Many of the immigrants who settled in Greenpoint first came to work in the plant. Initially, it was the Polish and later in the 1920’s, Puerto Ricans. They were recruited on Puerto Rico and brought here on a special ship. Continue reading →
They say 90% of success is showing up. Or is it 80%? Either way, Greenpoint Democratic district leader Linda Minucci is being taken to task by people who admittedly have a vested interest in seeing her challenger best her.
For generations, J. Joseph & Sons was a local business that occupied the entire block on Manhattan Avenue between Eagle and Freeman Streets.
Three generations ago, when Greenpointers could only afford furniture and electrical appliances in installments, the business thrived by trusting people with store credit. With its iconic orange and blue neon sign, the store became part of the fabric of local life. Though it changed hands, it did so within the family, and the owners kept the business alive even as Greenpointers began to buy more and more of their furniture and appliances elsewhere. In the back of the store, you can still see where the owner hung a portrait of his great-grandfather, the original founder.
But consider the basic math: the store was doing less business as the value of the land it stood on skyrocketed.
The plan is to build 90 apartments in a seven-story structure and to create more than 12,000 square feet of commercial space.
The new building is part of the boom that is transforming North Greeenpoint. Soon, the area will have several thousand new residents, which will add to the existing burden on the transportation, sewage, and water infrastructure. The sleepy North end of the area will see a spike in traffic and more riders on the already overburdened G Train.
The familiar old family store that helped its customers buy the furniture and appliances they needed will soon be just a memory.
If I had to pick one house in Greenpoint to set a horror movie in it would be the big old house set back off the street at the corner of Oak and Guernsey. The red brick facade, spooky wooden double doors, cast iron railings at the building’s entrance, as well as the iron fence and gate at lawn’s edge all are original, dating to the house’s construction in 1887. Continue reading →