This 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.
The 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.
Proceeding 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.