Manhattan Avenue

Greenpoint’s Vaudeville Era Theaters: Still Hiding in Plain Sight

Drawing of RKO Greenpoint Theater (Courtesy of Julia Wertz)

It is almost inconceivable today, but in the 1920s Greenpoint had as many as eight Vaudeville theaters. Some of the buildings still survive, but with other uses.

In the days before most homes had a radio, Vaudeville theaters provided cheap non-stop entertainment with shows lasting for up to 15-hour stretches. In those days families were often larger in size with people crammed into their tiny dwellings like sardines. Vaudeville theaters provided an escape from these overcrowded apartments.

By 1911, records show a theatre at 153 Green St. It shows up in later records as a 400-seat theater either called the Arcade Theater or The Greenpoint Arcade Theater, but it did not last.

RKO Greenpoint’s interior (via cinematreasures.org)

Starting in 1927 with the arrival of the first talkie moving pictures, many of the Vaudeville theaters also served as movie houses. The largest theater was the RKO Greenpoint Theater on the corner of Calyer and Manhattan Avenue, which seated more than 1600 people and resembled an opera house with boxes, arches murals and terracotta designs on the ceilings. There were three levels of boxed seats on either side of the stage, and two balconies. The RKO hosted first-run double features after becoming a movie house.

RKO Greenpoint (Via cinematreasures.org)

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The Changing Face of Manhattan Avenue Stores

 

The former Manhattan Furrier in Greenpoint

Manhattan Avenue retail is in the midst of a rapid transition and very soon the avenue will be completely transformed into something totally different. Although there are some stores that have been on the avenue for my entire quarter-century in Greenpoint, a new breed of business is emerging, pushing out older established businesses and giving the avenue a new feel. As we reach the end of 2018, it is good to reflect on both what has remained unchanged, what has disappeared and what new businesses have taken root on the avenue.

There are a number of businesses that have deep roots, going back generations. Although the following list is not complete, Cato’s Army and Navy (654 Manhattan Ave.), Peter Pan Donut Shop (727 Manhattan Ave.), the Associated (802 Manhattan ave.) and C Town (953 Manhattan Ave.) supermarkets, McDonalds (904 Manhattan Ave.) and the Triple Decker (695 Manhattan Ave.) come immediately to mind as established institutions. Italy Pizza (788 Manhattan Ave.) and Russ’ Pizza (745 Manhattan Ave.) also have been serving great slices in the area for decades. Kiszka Meat Market (915 Manhattan ave.), Irene’s bar (623 Manhattan Ave.) and the Cafe Riviera (830 Manhattan ave.) are other examples of hardy Polish veterans that have changed little in the past 20 years.

The former Paris Shoe Store in Greenpoint

Then, there are those businesses that were once institutions but have vanished. I still miss Cheap Charlie’s (712 Manhattan Ave.) where you could buy just about anything. Gone are Radio Shack (760 Manhattan Ave.) and Off-Track Betting (756 Manhattan Ave.), which were once thriving businesses on the avenue. When I first walked down Manhattan Avenue Corwith Brothers, which had generations of real estate sales in Greenpoint was on the East side of the street and Trunz meat market was across the street from it. For years there was a very popular English language school, I believe called the Greenpoint English School and a popular Polish disco called Europa (now the Good Room) on the corner of Meserole. There seemed to be ubiquitous dollar stores, some of which still survive at least until the lease is up. There were actually very few chain stores and most of the businesses on the avenue were family-owned, mom and pop stores. The Joseph and Sons furniture store comes to mind as does Jam’s stationary, and the Paris Shoe Store. Continue reading

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24-Hour Cafe Bagelogy Opening Early 2019 on Manhattan Avenue

A 24-hour cafe featuring hand-rolled bagels and a full-scale juice bar named Bagelogy is scheduled to open early next year at 699 Manhattan Ave.

The new cafe will be housed in three former commercial stores, including the former Greenpoint Finest Deli in the front, and will be outfitted with porcelain tiles, custom-designed tables, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Bagelogy’s side entrance on Norman Avenue

Owner Sam Kaplan, who was born and raised on Norman Avenue, is in the process of adding bathrooms and seating capacity for 30 customers in the space with the help of an architectural team.

Kaplan emphasizes fresh ingredients when describing the future menu options. “We are gonna go above Boar’s Head, we’re not doing processed meats,” he said. Customers can expect hand-carved roast beef, hand-sliced lox and eight to 10 choices of tofu cream cheese along with traditional cream cheese options made in-house. Continue reading

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Where’s the Midterm Elections Party?

Election night party at the Brooklyn Bazaar

The 2018 midterm elections are a high stakes affair, with the Democratic party poised to take back Congress (and potentially the Senate). So grab a friend or two, most importantly vote and then check out one of the local viewing parties:

Brooklyn Bazaar (150 Greenpoint Ave.)

The Midterm Election Viewing party at Bazaar w/ Drink Specials

8 p.m. – Free

 

Bar Uni (674 Manhattan Ave.) 

VOCÊ – Election Day Edition

7 – 8 p.m. – ambiance + live music + playing the #actuallycurious card game from Curiosity Lab
8 – 8:30 p.m. – featured speakers, economist Esben Baek + poet Michele Hatchette
8:30 – 8:45 p.m. – Musical intermezzo with Xavier White + results watching
8:45 – 9:15 pm. – featured political guest, new state rep Julia Salazar + conversation between guests and audience
9:15 – 9:30 p.m. – musical intermezzo with Andrew Milea + results watching
9:30 – 10: p.m. – mini haiku duel (4-8 poets duel, first come first served for signups)
10 p.m. – ??? – discussion, celebration, therapy, and meeting new friends

7 p.m. – close – Free

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The New York Marathon Heads Through Greenpoint Sunday

New York City Marathon; runners take to Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint. (courtesy of Kai Brinker)

It’s one of the greatest sports events on the planet, and this Sunday (11/4) the New York Marathon will wind its way through our area. 50,000 competitors will pass down Manhattan Avenue and it is one of the very few world-class sporting events you can see live and for free. For better or worse, the race will also close off Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint Avenue and part of McGuinness Boulevard for several hours; moving in, out and around our area will be tricky. Despite the minor inconvenience, the race is still a spectacle to behold and Greenpoint is one of the best places in the city to watch the drama of the marathon unfold. Continue reading

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Manhattan Ave Eatery Cherry Point Has A New Chef

Chanterelle and maitake mushrooms, egg yolk: Cherry Point uses a mix of foraged and cultivated mushrooms (courtesy of Nick Solares @nicksolares)

Ed Szymanski was actually Cherry Point’s (664 Manhattan Ave.) opening sous chef in May 2016; now, after a year and a half as head chef at the Beatrice Inn in the West Village, Szymanski has returned to Brooklyn, a move Cherry Point owner Vince Mazeau likens to “getting the band back together.” Szymanski, originally from England, has been helping to shape the new menu since August, which will roll out in full in mid-November, reimagining Cherry Point as a modern English restaurant. Continue reading

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‘Stinky’ Limo Towed, No Longer on the Lam

A decrepit white limousine featuring plastic covered windows and loaves of bread overflowing from the trunk may have alerted your senses on and around Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint this week.

You can breathe easy, the limo was towed from the neighborhood on Wednesday following a series of complaints to 311 and the 94th Precinct according to CBS2.

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Live in a One-Bedroom on Manhattan Avenue for $1020/month

977 Manhattan Avenue
977 Manhattan Avenue via 6sqft

While many Greenpointers find it difficult to cheer constant “luxury” real estate development in the neighborhood, the situation may yield one perk: the housing lottery. The newest spot with apts on offer is 977 Manhattan Avenue, between India and Huron. The entire 14-unit building is going for a cool $14.25 Million, but New Yorkers earning 60% of the area median income can apply for 3 1-bedroom apartments, each asking $1,020/month, including utilities.

The environmentally conscious among us might be excited to know that the building is Green Certified, and sports energy-efficient elements, including solar panels. Other perks include a bike room, central air, and in-ceiling speakers.  Continue reading

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Greenpoint Winter Survival Guide: Get Your Lit On This Winter

Steffanie Ostrowski, Floor Manager of Word Brooklyn.

What types of books are your fellow Greenpointers curling up with this winter? More winter survival tips are coming your way this week, this time we get some solid literary recommendations from Word Bookstore’s Brooklyn floor manager Steffanie Ostrowski.

Check out our previous interviews here, here, here, here and here.

BOOKS: WORD BROOKLYN | 126 Franklin Street
Steffanie Ostrowski, Floor Manager

Greenpointers: What types of books are currently the most popular at the Greenpoint store?

Steffanie Ostrowski: I think that in general, everyone is looking for a lot of social science books so that they can learn about things that are going on today. Also, there’s the escapism of fiction so that they don’t have to deal with the world, so people are getting the new fiction that’s coming out. When Pete Souza’s Obama book came out, that was our big ticket item. Now it’s out of stock everywhere because everyone just wanted to remember. Continue reading

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The Greenpoint Nacho Throwdown 2018

© The Drift/Instagram

With the Super Bowl right around the corner, now’s the perfect time to seek out Greenpoint’s finest platters of cheesy, crisp, fully-loaded chips. Whether you’re looking for a dine-in Super Bowl experience complete with big screens or nachos that can be easily transported to your house party of choice, we’ve found five neighborhood plates that you won’t want to miss.

Cadillac Nachos at The Drift | 579 Meeker Ave
At their cozy, quasi-nautical drinking hole on Meeker Avenue, the team at The Drift offers up a dish that made their sister bars (The Commodore and El Cortez) famous: the decadent, lowbrow-in-the-best-way Cadillac Nachos ($12). The yellow corn tortilla chips provide the base for a deluge of jalapeno-spiked queso that would do a Texan proud, earthy pinto beans, three salsas with varying levels of heat, a drizzle of sour cream, plus cilantro sprigs and thinly-sliced radish for crunch. If you’re in a more-is-more mood, you can also opt for an addition of chopped chicken or ribs ($4 extra). This enormous stack of nacho goodness pairs perfectly with The Drift’s tiki-inspired cocktails. Continue reading

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