Greenpoint: On the Brooklyn Waterfront

Greenpoint: On the Brooklyn Waterfront

Greenpoint Image 4This 3-hour tour highlights the industrial heritage, civic buildings, immigrant presence, and gentrifying future of one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in North Brooklyn. From its origins as a plot of farmland incorporated separately from neighboring Williamsburg, Greenpoint evolved into an “American Birmingham” in the nineteenth century before experiencing decline and a recent resurgence as a gentrifying hot spot.

Greenpoint Monitor ImageThe tour begins along the stately pre-Civil War brick mansions that line the side streets of Greenpoint’s Historic District, named for the exotic ports of call frequented by the vessels of the shipping magnates that built them. Once a center of shipbuilding (many of the Civil War ironclads, including the famous Monitor, were built here), the neighborhood later became known for “the five black arts” (printing, glass making, ceramics, ironwork, and oil refining) that characterized the “metropolitan industrialization” of nineteenth-century New York.

Greenpoint Image2Proceeding along thriving Franklin Street, the tour will include such stops as the Eberhardt Pencil Factory, and the Astral Apartments (one of the first model housing projects for workers, built by Astral Oil tycoon Charles Pratt), as well as the area’s oldest synagogue. Recent rezoning along the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront has resulted in the creation of parks and an influx of trendy shops and businesses, but also threatens the neighborhood’s identity as a blue-collar haven for Polish and Latin American immigrants.

Norman Oder 2Norman Oder A career-long journalist, Norman holds a political science degree from Yale University and a master of studies in law from Yale Law School, but he credits architectural historian Vincent Scully for inspiring him to explore and examine cities. Born in Brooklyn and a returnee to the borough in 1991, Norman began in 2000 to lead energetic, electic tours around numerous Brooklyn neighborhoods, expanding his repertoire each year (and even dipping into Queens and Manhattan). He continues to work as a journalist, focusing on Brooklyn, notably the borough's decade-long development controversy, about which he writes the comprehensive, critical Atlantic Yards Report blog.
Sean GriffinSean Griffin Sean griffin is a doctoral candidate in History at the City University of New York Graduate Center. His research interests lie in 19th century history, and include slavery and antislavery, labor, African-American, and urban history. He has previously worked in history education at the New-York Historical Society and the American Social History Project, and is a contributor to the NYC Landmarks 50 preservation project. His current project looks at the relationship between the labor movement, land reform, and antislavery politics in the decades before the Civil War.