Like neighboring Williamsburg, Greenpoint has been gentrifying for the past decade or so. Hip restaurants, bars, and boutiques line streets like Franklin and Manhattan Avenues, with more new spots reaching the neighborhood’s northernmost tip and high-rise condos being erected along the waterfront. Though the pace of development has been a bit slower in Greenpoint than in Williamsburg, due in part to the dearth of transit options, the neighborhood is evolving, as it has several other times over its long history.
The northernmost part of Brooklyn, Greenpoint is separated from Queens by Newtown Creek and bordered on the south and southeast by Williamsburg and Bushwick. It was originally inhabited by the Lenape Native Americans and became part of Bushwick during the days of Dutch New Amsterdam. In 1834, it became part of Brooklyn, which became a borough of New York City in 1898. In its earliest days as a Dutch settlement, the bucolic neighborhood was characterized by fields and orchards. It gets is name from a piece of land jutting out into the East River that to sailors passing by literally appeared to be a green point.
The mid to late 1800s saw Greenpoint become a bustling center for industry, with everything from ship building to oil refineries and porcelain makers located along the waterfront. By the 1870s, residents were already complaining of foul smells. Waste from the factories spilled out into the East River and Newtown Creek, which became one of the city’s most polluted waterways. Industrial production declined in the 1960s, and parts of the neighborhood became neglected, industrial wasteland until the creative renaissance in Williamsburg began spreading north into Greenpoint.
Even if you think you know everything about Greenpoint, you might be surprised by some of the quirky finds we dug up. From where to find some of the best Polish food in NYC to a boat club that takes people kayaking on the East River, here are 10 intriguing secrets of Greenpoint.
1. Greenpoint Has Some of the Best Polish Restaurants in NYC
Ever since the early days of Greenpoint’s industrialization, immigrants formed much of the neighborhood’s workforce. Until about the 1880s, the neighborhood was populated mostly by people of Anglo-Saxon, Dutch, and French descent, but in the late 19th century, immigrants from Russia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland began moving in, eventually earning the neighborhood the nickname Little Poland.
Though the Polish community has been dwindling, with many Polish families and businesses priced out, a number of Polish restaurants and meat markets are still going strong. One of the best is Karczma, where waitstaff dressed in traditional outfits serve pierogies and borscht in a rustic space that looks like a Polish farmhouse. Other places to eat Polish food include Christina’s, which is known for hearty dishes in a diner-esque space, Krajan Polskie Deli, which sells bread, meat, cheeses, and pre-packaged foods as well as made-to-order authentic Polish food, and Polka Dot, a family-owned spot known for its good vegan and vegetarian options.