One of the things I did while researching my local history book Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past was talking to as many Greenpoint seniors as I could. They have repeatedly told me a story I cannot document, but must be true—Greenpoint hosted an Italian prisoner of war camp during the second World War.
Other Greenpoint amateur historians doubt the existence of the camp and say simply, “Prove it.” I can’t, although I have searched extensively. If, on the one hand I cannot document the existence of the camp, then, on the other hand we cannot dismiss the memories of a dozen older Greenpointers either.
The camp was at Dupont Street and Franklin where the Greenpoint Playground is today. Old timers recall guards, a wire fence and barges where the hundreds of Italians lived. One of the seniors commented to me, “They may have been prisoners, but they had a million dollar view of the New York skyline.” Continue reading →
I just got back from vacation in Vico Equense, a town on the Sorrentine peninsula in southern Italy. The people there seem wealthier than when I last visited a dozen years ago, and that has triggered some changes in the local culture. You hear more standardized Italian instead of the Neapolitan dialect on the streets now, and it is no longer common to see laundry hanging on lines across buildings.
It served as a reminder of Greenpoint’s recent influx of residents in high-paid professions, and the lively debate over what the neighborhood has gained and lost from that demographic shift. Continue reading →
In recent weeks a jovial string of tricolore bunting has appeared in the middle of Dobbin Street. This is not the world’s smallest street party but instead marks the site of The Tasting Room, a new store specializing in imported goodies such as olive oils, pasta and antipasti, all from Italy’s southern region of Puglia.
The Tasting Room owners Matthew Millner and his wife (who is from Puglia), have actually been importing and distributing these types of goods for the past three years, but it is only recently that they decided to open up a retail outlet. Continue reading →