When Transmitter Park finally opened in 2012, many longtime Greenpoint residents were shocked to realize that for decades they had been denied amazing views of the East River. They wondered how they could have lived so close to the East River, yet missed its stunning vistas. They also wondered why the community had been shut off from their waterfront for generations. The 1.61-acre park on the East River offers spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and is a much needed urban oasis, but to understand why it took North Brooklyn decades to develop a park at the site lets take a look at the history.
The park is a natural estuary with wetlands that were once the hunting ground of the Keskachaugue Native Americans. The land is also susceptible to floods and when the park was planned, the designers incorporated a bridge into the park design that allows for the periodic high waters of the East River to enter the park. Sometime in the 1840s, the area was chosen as the site for a primitive ferry that was nothing more than a small rowboat with a sail that carried a few passengers over to the sparsely settled Brooklyn shore. Remnants of that first ferry are still visible from the park’s bridge, but the undeveloped shoreline of the park would soon change with the advent of our area’s first industry: shipbuilding.
The rapid development of shipbuilding in Greenpoint coincided with a huge demand for sailing ships. Trade with China and the gold rush in California created a massive need for ships and the East River shoreline became the nation’s largest center of shipbuilding. The first wooden ship was built locally in 1850 and within five years a dozen shipyards producing wooden ships lined the East River shoreline.
John Englis joined his father’s business in 1850 at his yard at the foot of East 10th Street in Manhattan and created the famous shipbuilding firm John Englis and Sons. Manhattan was booming, forcing shipbuilding across the river and John Englis and Sons moved to Greenpoint in 1872. The Englis family yard, located where the park is today, built several famous ships there. The family constructed one of the largest wooden ships ever built, The Grand Republic, which was more than a football field in length. Today, the bar ‘Grand Republic’ is just up the street from the park and recalls the huge wooden ship.
Shipbuilding was proving unprofitable in the early 1900s, and slowly the Greenpoint yards closed, but John Englis and Sons alone held out. Finally, Englis and Sons too could not find orders and in 1911 the last surviving shipyard in Greenpoint closed, ending a colorful era.
Governor ‘Amazon’ Cuomo is set to tour the L train’s Canarsie tunnel on Thursday night ahead of the subway line’s 15-month shutdown between Manhattan and Brooklyn that is scheduled to start in April 2019.
While not exactly an eleventh-hour visit (pun intended), Cuomo will descend into the hurricane-ravaged tunnel flanked by ‘national and international experts’ for a photo-op around midnight.
This means some late night schedule changes on the L train tonight: the overnight schedule will begin at 12 a.m. instead of 1:30 a.m., when trains will run every 20 minutes. Regular service will resume at 1:30 a.m.
Amazon Cuomo called into WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” on Monday to dish on an array of issues facing the Empire State, including the impending L train shutdown. Read Cuomo’s meandering take on his L train visit:
“I am this week going to take a look myself at the L train. And as a project to close the tunnel that carries the L train, it would be highly disruptive for many people, of course. You want to make sure the tunnel is safe, and the train is safe. But this Thursday night, midnight, I’m gonna take a tour to make sure we are doing everything we can and explore every option to reduce any possible disruption.
I did the same thing with the 2nd Avenue subway to make sure that the bureaucracy is being flexible and open and creative. Because these are vital services; you close down the L train, they’re talking about 15 months, it creates a major problem.
The city’s worked very hard, the MTA has worked hard to come up with alternatives. But the functionality of this agency is key, and when it becomes a major situation that I can get involved in directly, like the 2nd Avenue subway…But the MTA day-to-day having the funding, to buy new trains, put in that new signal system, do the construction on time, that is vital. Remebering that the whole system is, has been neglected for decades, it’s a 100 year old system, and the volume is multiple times what it was designed to handle.”
A 21-year-old jumped off the Kent and N. 1st Street pier around 5am on Thursday and was immediately carried away by the current. Police are continuing to search the water for him. Although the East River often looks calm, it has deceivingly fast moving currents and swiftly changing tides that can push swimmers north at a rapid rate of approx. 1.5 nautical mph.
The recent White Lung show at St. Vitus witnessed a pretty epic mosh pit, complete with beer throwing, flower smashing, and some “undirected air punches” from the crowd.
Last week we talked about speed cameras being voted out of the city budget, which could be a major road block for Vision Zero, de Blasio’s ambitious campaign to end all traffic deaths in NYC. But what’s been most fascinating about the conflict, is seeing the ways in which New Yorkers have responded.
Tomorrow (4/9) Right of Way, a “direct action street justice group,” is taking their protest to the streets, staging a demonstration that will involve stenciling the outlines of 40 bodies on Grand St (Between Columbia and Lewis in the LES), the number of lives they believe will be lost as a result of the speed camera bill. The protest will point fingers directly at lawmakers in Albany, whom they hold ultimately accountable, using #killedbyalbany as a slogan, transposed over a logo of a bloody handprint.