Some call it McGolrick Park, while many born and bred locals call it Winthrop Park. So what are you supposed to call it and why does the park have two names anyway? To answer these questions we need to explore the history of the pretty little nine-acre park.
The park was once swampy land on the Kingsland farm. You might have heard of Kingsland Avenue in South Greenpoint, but not know who Ambrose Kingsland was. Well, he was a rich Manhattan sperm whale oil merchant who served as mayor of New York in 1851. What saves him from the so what dustbin of irrelevant figures in history? Well in his two-year term as mayor he started the process of creating Central Park, but back to Greenpoint.
Kingsland had his farmland surveyed and he made a killing selling off parcels of it, but the land where the park sits was a swamp and draining it was too costly so it sat there undeveloped until the year 1889 when State Assemblyman Winthrop Jones spearheaded obtaining a $132,825 appropriation for its purchase. Locals howled about the outrageous price of the swampy land and they groused further because the City of Brooklyn (we were still an independent city then) paid even more for improvements to the park. The site was graded and fitted with a drainage system, and a new lawn was planted. Winthrop Jones died in 1891 and naming the park after the Calyer Street resident seemed like a fitting memorial.
Most people associate Greenpoint with the Polish community, but our area has a long and deep connection to Ireland. Let’s answer a few questions to prepare you fully to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day locally.
1) When, how and why did the Irish come to Greenpoint?
Greenpoint really began to be a community in the 1850s, just after the Irish famine devastated the country. Already in 1855 a third of the local residents were Irish. The Irish dominated the local waterfront. The McAllister family from Cushendall, Co. Antrim started a tugboat and lighter fleet and brought over many family members and neighbors from Northern Ireland and many Greenpoint Irish families have Cushendall roots. By the 1880s The Irish were a large and growing presence in the area.
2) What local places have Irish associations?
Perhaps it is better to ask what places do not? McGolrick Park was named for local parish priest Monseigneur Edward McGolrick who was born in Donegal and rebuilt St. Cecelia’s Church. McCarren Park was named for Irish-American State Senator Patrick McCarren. McGuinness Boulevard was named for Peter J. McGuinness the politician who popularized Greenpoint’s nickname “ The Garden Spot” and brought the area the McCarren Park pool and the G Train.
3) What local Irish pub are around to celebrate in?
Sadly we lost Shayz Lounge, which was run by two Dubliners. Connie O’s on Norman Avenue is the last real Irish-American Greenpoint bar. The Capri Lounge, once known as Murphy’s, resurrects its Irish past and throws a great party with many locally born Irish- Americans. The Palace bar was for many years run by an Irish-American family. Derry man Stevie Howlett at Lake Street gives an Irish aura to the Minnesota bar on Manhattan Avenue.
4) Did Any Irish Greenpointers affect Ireland?
Yes and how! Thomas Clarke who lived at 175 Russell St. returned to Ireland and took part in the Easter Rising. He formally declared the existence of the Irish Republic before he was captured and shot by the British. He and his wife are honored heroes in Ireland.
The last FREE family-centric Summer Sunday of the season is happening this Sunday (Sept 9th) at McGolrick Park, from 11am-1pm. The kid friendly event will feature Rock’n’LoLo and her Spanish singalong and Eckford Street Studio (70 Eckford St) hosting arts and crafts. All are welcome!
Come mid-September Greenpoint’s kids can trade the pop-up playground in McGolrick Park for the real deal. The Playground is in the midst of a year-long make over, funded largely by Councilman Stephen Levin and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
As part of the revamp, the Parks Department has installed new playground equipment and spray showers, added more benches, upgraded landscaping, poured new pavement and put up new fencing. Parks will also refurbish pathways throughout the park in the fall.
While neighbors may cheer the new equipment, plenty will miss an old friend: The playground’s whale has been removed during the rennovation.
The classic adventure flick Raiders of the Lost Ark is coming to McGolrick Park for free tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8/21)! Get there around 7:45pm, set up your blankets and chairs and bring your own snacks (but there will be FREE POPCORN!). The film will be set up on the Monitor Street lawn. The movie series in McGolrick is presented by the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance (MPNA) and sponsored by
When:Tuesday, August 21, around 7:45pm Where: McGolrick Park, Monitor Street lawn FREE!
There was a time not long ago when you had to travel to Manhattan jazz clubs and pay a cover just to listen to great jazz, but that is no longer true and great jazz has arrived locally in Greenpoint. Thursday, August 16 from 7pm-9pm in McGolrick Park some of the best local jazz musicians will show their virtuosity and their love of this unique art form, presented by OSA (The Open Space Alliance of North Brooklyn) at the location of the new Earth-shaped Ziemia sculpture in the middle of the park.
The driving force behind the emergence of local jazz is Jesse Lynch, a classical pianist who fell in love with jazz. He has amazing dexterity and a great left hand, suiting him to playing even the most demanding jazz melodies.
Lynch arrived in Greenpoint looking for a place to practice and play intimate local gigs with other highly talented musicians. These underground sessions evolved into what Lynch has named The Vortex, a monthly series in his private loft featuring rotating combinations of musicians playing jazz standards and original compositions in an intimate, casual setting. Though the musicians might change from session to session, the quality of the music does not and there is a unique vibe and energy to Lynch’s sessions that listeners will also hear in McGolrick Park on Thursday. Continue reading →
From 11am-1pm this Sunday (7/15) when you swing by the farmers market in McGolrick to pick up those oh-so-perfect summer cherries, you and your kids can enjoy lots of family-friendly activities. Part of a summer series that goes through September, this Sunday’s event will feature live music, watercolor crafts, a hula hooping workshop and face painting.
Revel in this, Greenpointers: the first new sculpture McGolrick Park has seen in decades will be unveiled on Saturday.
Ziemia: Our Stories Are Written in Soil is a public art installation by New York-based Polish artist Martynka Wawrzyniak that reflects on the history of our jewel box neighborhood. Greenpoint is a melting pot of families of diverse backgrounds, holding significant cultural ties to Poland with the long-standing Polish diaspora situated in the neighborhood. In honor of the centennial celebration of Poland’s independence being restored, Ziemia is presented thanks to the support and collaboration of the Polish Cultural Institute New York as a multidisciplinary public art project opening from 2–5 PM on Saturday, June 9 with a wide range of activities. Visitors are invited to a family-friendly environment to appreciate the artwork, enjoy live music, educational workshops, and Polish snacks. There will even be a chance to win a trip to Poland by participating in the Sto Lat Polska project!
A few weeks ago we wrote about the Sunday farmers’ market in McGolrick (Winthrop) Park having been relegated to a tight spot on the sidewalk on Monitor Street at the back of the park. The central plaza in the park, the original home of the market, was being reserved as an area for children to play, due to the playground being under construction until this September. But, after nearly 400 residents and vendors signed a petition to find a new spot for the market, it’s now moving back!