In 1996, when his family emigrated from Poland with hopes of a better life, 7 year old Adam Kownacki started life in America in a house on Russell Street and enrolled in P.S. 34. “We came in, didn’t speak the English language, we had a hard time adapting to the culture,” said younger brother Lukasz. And Greenpoint wasn’t like how it is now back then, according to Adam’s other brother Pawel. “It was rough. If you walked into the wrong part of the neighborhood, you got beat up.”
Adam was not only the new kid in town but also “heavyset” and became a target for bullying. Why would anyone pick on a big guy, I wondered. “I know a lot of big kids, they’re soft. They don’t want to hurt anybody so many people, as they do with adults, mistake kindness for weakness,” said Adam’s trainer Keith Trimble. Indeed, Adam Kownacki, nicknamed “Babyface” is soft-spoken and has a cherubic demeanor that belies his fierce fighting skills in the boxing ring – With two Golden Gloves, an undefeated record, and a string of knock-out wins, Adam is on his way towards being the first Polish-American heavyweight champion of the world. Continue reading →
Happy first day of school, Greenpoint! This year, the local conservationists at Newtown Creek Alliance are bringing the creek to the curriculum as part of the National Wildlife Federation’s Greenpoint EcoSchools initiative.
NCA will pioneer its new STEM Urban Ecology curriculum in the four Greenpoint Public schools: PS 31, PS 34, PS 110, and MS 126. The learning modules and field trips, designed for elementary and middle school students, cover Flora and Fauna relationships, invasive and native species, topography, water and soil quality, ecological health and legacy and ongoing pollution sources.
Each lesson will culminate in a “design based applied learning project,” and NCA staff will serve as expert guides, leading classes through related activities and offering guest lecturers in the classroom. Continue reading →
Dance, auctions, and film! It’s an eclectic mix of goings-on this week, Greenpointers. Enjoy your weekly roundup below.
Not an Ending at All Triskelion Arts | 106 Calyer Street May 10–12 | 8 PM More info, $18 in advance or $22 at the door
Not an Ending at All is an evening-length work, exploring the homes we build for the spirits that haunt us. Inspired by the Buddhist teachings on Hungry Ghosts and a deleted scene from Fred Astaire’s “Second Chorus,” the two performers — Sarah Capua and Audrey Lane Ellis — navigate an intimate world carefully guarded by a chorus of personal apparitions in this dance performance. Continue reading →
Do you want to know about the extraordinary history all around you? (Yes!!) Well you’re in luck. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has just released a revamped version of its interactive landmarks map!!!
If you’re ready for a deep dive, this might be the best city for it, since the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is the largest municipal preservation agency in the nation. The LPC recognizes individual landmarks, interior landmarks, scenic landmarks and historic districts, designating sites based on historic, architectural and cultural significance. The map includes information, photographs, and historic designation reports for all 36,000 buildings and sites which the organization has landmarked since its inception in 1965.
You can search for landmarks by category, address or area; by style, architect, building type or era of construction. I popped in Greenpoint, and discovered we have 10 designations, including individual landmarks and historic districts. So without further ado, I give you, The Hist List: Every Historic Landmark in Greenpoint! Continue reading →
Things have changed a lot over the years on Norman Avenue, but Scandinavian influence remains. It is highly ironic that two Scandinavian cutting edge entrepreneurs have just opened their modern, ultra trendy, design center-restaurant Norman (29 Norman Ave) on a street named for the first Greenpointer, fellow Scandinavian, Dirck Volckertszen, the Norwegian immigrant who built the area’s first house nearby in 1645, more than three hundred and fifty years ago. Recently opened by Danish restaurateur Claus Meyer and Swedish chef, Fredrick Berselius, Norman is another chapter in Greenpoint’s long Nordic heritage. Volckertszen is too hard a name to pronounce, so the Dutch called him Dirck the Norseman, Dutch for Norwegian, which got shortened to Norman, hence the name of the street.
Norman Avenue was not always called by its present name. It was once Third Street and then Union Street. Volckert Dircksen, the oldest son of Dirck Volckertszen, built his house near Bushwick Creek on Norman Avenue between Manhattan Avenue and Lorimer Street about 1700. The house is long gone, but near where it once stood is one of the prettiest houses in Greenpoint, 61 Norman Avenue, a cute wood- frame house set off the street with a gorgeous garden in its front yard. Before the street was created Norman Avenue was part of the beautiful Meserole Orchard, and the trees remind me of the ancient orchard. Continue reading →
Yesterday, when Joe Rickets, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade, who owned DNAinfo and Gothamist shut down those sites – putting 115 people out of work – following the reporters’ vote to unionize, we got another reminder of how easily a powerful individual can wantonly affect the lives of so many people according to his whims.
Powerful business interests have been flexing their muscles here in Greenpoint, too. Both the waterfront development firm Greenpoint Landing Associates, and the pharmaceutical conglomerate Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) scored some good press this week by making grants to the local community. Greenpoint Landing Associates donated $250,000 to the Greenpoint YMCA (99 Meserole Ave) to renovate the gym, fitness room and spin center. PhRMA pledged $2,000 to P.S. 34 Oliver H. Perry Elementary to support the school’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. Continue reading →
P.S 34, also known as the Oliver Hazard Perry School, is more than an elegant old red brick school building on the corner of Norman Avenue and McGuinness Boulevard. Built in the gorgeous Romanesque Revival style, it is in fact the oldest continually used school building in New York and a New York City Landmark. According to some sources the school dates back to 1867 when it was designed by Samuel Leonard, the Superintendent of school buildings in the still independent city of Brooklyn. Leonard Street is in fact named after Superintendent Leonard. These were years when Greenpoint was growing fast. Leonard supervised another addition to the building in 1870 and another superintendent oversaw another addition in 1887-1888. Continue reading →