Go north, not west. Greenpoint’s placement at the furthermost tip of Brooklyn makes it peak “North Brooklyn” territory. Bordered by the East River, its geographical location has long made Greenpoint integral to maritime activity, present day ferry service to Manhattan included. With Williamsburg to the south and Long Island City to the north, Greenpoint’s “hip factor” often experiences crossover traffic from these areas.
Particularly bustling on the weekend, the edge of McCarren Park at Bedford Avenue and Lorimer Street filters out into prime Greenpoint, where brunch has become a hallowed tradition for newer and longtime residents alike. Bars and restaurants such as Spritzenhaus and Five Leaves also provide close proximity to a post-dining jaunt in the park.
As the neighborhood continues to grow and develop, the old world feel of a tradition of Polish immigrants has commingled with the arrival of enterprising millennials that have become a part of the go-getting spirit of the neighborhood. Filled with small coffee shops, vintage boutiques and award-winning restaurants (as well as tailored bars like TØRST offering up specialty beers on tap), Greenpoint truly is the jewel of North Brooklyn.
When it comes to taking in the East River waterfront, there’s no better vantage point than the one from Transmitter Park.
Originally opened in 2010, Paulie Gee’s quickly became a neighborhood favorite with its delicious thin crust pizzas (including menu go-tos like the Greenpointer and Cherry Jones) and attentive personal touch of Paulie Gee himself, known for making an appearance at your table to ask how everything is tasting. On the success of his restaurant, PG opened Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop on Franklin Street, just a stone’s throw from its Greenpoint Avenue location.
You can’t go to Greenpoint without getting a little taste of Polish food. Karczma is a go-to for the best of this signature cuisine.
Opened by none other than Homer Murray, Bill Murray’s son, 21 Greenpoint has settled nicely into the inpouring of upscale restaurants and bars that have made the neighborhood a destination spot for foodies. Featuring an array of menu items in the tradition of American cuisine, the restaurant offers everything from pizza and veggies to meat and seafood.
And, speaking of seafood, you won’t want to miss out on the fare at Greenpoint Fish and Lobster. Established out of co-owners Adam Geringer-Dunn and Vinny Milburn’s need to fill the void for fresh, responsibly sourced seafood in the neighborhood, some of the best fish you’ll taste is from this raw bar.
Loved by locals, WORD Bookstore is home to various monthly reading series, writing workshops and a carefully curated selection of literature both global and Brooklyn-centric.
A longtime staple of the nabe, Black Rabbit is renowned for its trivia night and tasty pub fare. It’s also located directly across the street from the poultry slaughterhouse featuring the sign that was humorously crossed out to read “Live Poultry Laughter Comedy Club” in 2012, and hasn’t been changed since.
Filled with statues and landmarks of historical importance (like the Shelter Pavilion and a commemorative sculpture called The Monitor and the Merrimac), McGolrick Park is deeper into Greenpoint than McCarren, offering a somewhat quieter, off the beaten path environment.
Sit back and relax at McCarren Park, or engage in some recreational activity on the running track, baseball field or skatepark. If you’ve got a dog, you’ll also enjoy taking your pet to the McCarren dog run at N. 12th Street and Driggs Avenue.
A place Tina Fey once deemed her favorite place in New York for donuts, Peter Pan will have the sugar addict (i.e. inner child) in you coming back for more. Affordable prices and a 50s-inspired diner vibe make it one of Greenpoint’s foremost gems.
Vintage shopping at places like Beacon’s Closet, Dusty Rose and People of 2Morrow make Greenpoint a prime destination for the fashion savvy.
What You Might See
Did someone say Poland? No, Greenpoint. The long-standing hub of Polish immigration, the place where Mae West grew up has no shortage of kielbasa and pierogis to offer.
Hipster dads. Who says parenting can’t be chic? When you’re a stay-at-home dad with a freelancer’s gig, you can still maintain your edge and be an attentive patriarch.
TV crews. Greenpoint has become a destination spot for on location shoots.
Plenty of signs of the past with residual architecture from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that signify the ghosts of residents past.
What’s In The Future
Likely a runoff of residents from Long Island City as more employees wanting to stick close to Amazon’s headquarters seek housing options. Or at least nearby watering holes to the office.
Greenpoint has gotten more expensive over the years thanks to its proximity to being sandwiched between the high-rise attracting areas of Williamsburg and Long Island City. However, it has maintained--and will likely continue to--its independent feel thanks to the artistic and entrepreneurial spirit of many of its residents.
Even so, many long-time businesses and institutions have been forced to shutter as a result of rising rents, including the legendary concert venue House of Vans, which closed in August of 2018 and is now on the market for a cool $77,000 a month.
The somewhat limited size and route of the G train also makes Greenpoint less tailor-made for a large influx of new residents that could be more of a challenge to accommodate as development increases.
What You Might Not Know
The first settler of Greenpoint was Dirck Volckertsen, a Norwegian immigrant who built a one and a half story farmhouse on Franklin and Calyer in 1645. The proximity of his farm to what would become known as Norman’s Kill (or Creek) stemmed from other Dutch settlers nicknaming him Dirck de Noorman (Noorman being the Dutch word for Norseman).
In the 19th century, Greenpoint became a key epicenter of shipbuilding and other water-related commerce. The East River waterfront made the area prime territory for maritime activity.
Brooklyn was once home to twenty-five public bathhouses, among them the Huron Street Baths, built in 1903. At a cost of roughly $80,000, the no expense spared architecture was designed to emulate the Roman Revival style. If you’re wondering why the bathhouse was so significant, it’s because of the tenement living of most residents made this public bath the best way to maintain hygiene (a.k.a. take a shower somewhat regularly). At the height of its usage, some one thousand bathers a day would enter the facility. The building closed in 1960, and is now expected to be repurposed into condos.
In the 1920s, Greenpoint was chock full of vaudeville theaters, the architectural influence of which can still be seen in the edifices that house such businesses as the Starbucks and Rite Aid on Manhattan Avenue.
What We Love
The quaint look that still remains even after all these centuries of evolution. History is omnipresent on almost every block of Greenpoint, from the old theaters to the industrial buildings. Brownstone-laden blocks throughout also give the area an almost “on the set of New York”-like feel. In fact, many TV shows are or have been shot in Greenpoint, including The Good Wife and Girls.