A few months ago the city released its 1940s tax photo archive of over 700,000 black and white pictures and it’s a wonderful way for history nerds to waste hours dreaming of the Greenpoint days of yore. As part of the New Deal, the Works Progress Administration employed millions of Americans on public projects, and the NYC Dept. of Taxation hired a team of photographers under the program in 1939 – 1940 to snap pictures of every building in the city for property tax assessment. Greenpointers will be posting side-by-side photos to observe changes in the neighborhood; please note that the addresses are approximate and refer to the listings from the city’s tax archive. First up, Franklin Street:
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
When the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission approved redevelopment at 111 Noble Street, in early February, many Greenpoint residents were chagrined to hear that the LPC would allow a property well within the limits of the Greenpoint Historic district to be so distinctly altered. The approved plans call for a third floor and a penthouse to added to the existing structure, and an expansion on the back of the house.
Since the LPC made its decision, Members of the Noble Historic Block Association have been advocating for “for the restoration of and maintenance in scale of [the original building], a modest house on our landmarked block.” The group wrote in an email to Greenpointers, “The LPC’s recent approval for radical expansion of two additional floors plus elevator is, we fear, essentially going to result in demolition and rebuild. Not only are we concerned about this happening to this property, but also we’ve continued to voice our concern that it creates a precedent (or adds to a trend) of the LPC permitting radical development rather than preservation within Landmarked areas.” Continue reading
You may have noticed a Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union (140 Greenpoint Avenue and 100 McGuinness Blvd) booth this weekend at our Winter Candyland Holiday Market. That’s because the PSFCU is a major supporter of the Greenpoint community as a whole, celebrating over 40 years in the neighborhood!
The PSFCU owes it community-oriented nature to the way it’s structured. Unlike banks, credit unions are member owned, which means a credit union is “an integral part of the community it serves; profits earned by a credit union serve all its members and the local community they represent, including various community organizations (schools, churches, scouting and student organizations, etc.).” This year’s donations included Greenpoint organizations like the Slavic Arts Ensemble, and The Polonia NY Soccer Club
The PSFCU has been serving Greenpoint since 1976, aiding immigrants new to the neighborhood who were turned away from traditional banks when they applied for home loans. What we know today as PSFCU was established as the “Industrial and Commercial Federal Credit Union” by the founders of Greenpoint’s Polish and Slavic Center (177 Kent St. and 176 Java Street). Continue reading
Today at The Pencil Factory at 47-61 Greenpoint Avenue, you can get an amazing haircut, or see an exciting new art exhibit, or even stop by our very own Greenpointers office, but between 1924 and 1956, that building lived up to its name and turned out pencils for the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company, one of the largest pencil manufacturers in the world. Faber had additional factories located in Germany, Canada, and Argentina, but Brooklyn was the heart of the enterprise. In fact, the Greenpoint Avenue plant was “one of Brooklyn’s most important factories, employing hundreds of workers, many of which were women.” Ace local historian Geoff Cobb included the Pencil Factory in his history of Greenpoint in 25 buildings, and 10 years ago this month, the City of New York recognized the importance of The Pencil Factory’s industrial and architectural history, and landmarked the building, establishing The Eberhard Faber Pencil Company Historic District. The district includes properties on Greenpoint Avenue, West and Kent Streets which were all originally part of the Pencil Factory complex.
The Eberhard Faber Pencil Company was a pencil industry Game Changer! The ingenuity of its products foreshadowed the creativity of businesses working out of the building today. For example, according to the site’s Historic District Designation Report, “Faber was responsible for many breakthroughs in the production of pencils and related items, including having been the first pencil manufacturer maker to merchandise pencils with color tips (known as Mongol pencils, they became the world’s most popular color pencil), the first to apply polishes in bright colors to the wood encasements, and the first to offer color pencils in sets.” That’s right. No Faber, no color pencils. We stand on the shoulders of giants, people! Continue reading
Over-zealous waterfront development in Greenpoint is actually pretty old news. Scroll back the hands of time to the mid 1800’s and we’d find a very familiar scenario taking place on our shores. Before there were real estate moguls like George Klein and David Bistricer, there was Neziah Bliss–an entrepreneur that radically transformed the Greenpoint landscape forever.
Bliss, like his modern day compatriots, was a man of big ideas. He saw our expansive waterfront and could instantly hear the coins ringing. Continue reading