The Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn strikes a perfect balance between hip and homey. On one hand, there are cool vintage-inspired boutiques and a surging dining scene, and on the other there are friendly Polish restaurants and meat markets. You can get a pint of craft ale and a $10 plate of kielbasa and cabbage here. The neighborhood's only subway is the unpredictable G, the one line that doesn't go to Manhattan. For a while, this inaccessibility kept gentrification in check. Yet with Williamsburg housing prices skyrocketing, the creative class is inching northward into Greenpoint. High-rise condominiums are sprouting where factories and warehouses once stood. Things are changing quickly here, and its kielbasa days look numbered.
Greenpoint lies between North 12th Street to the south, Newtown Creek on the north and east, and the East River to the west. It is served by the G train on Manhattan Avenue, but those living in the southern part of the neighborhood can walk to the L train. The East River Ferry docks at the end of India Street, making it convenient for those going to east Midtown (and willing to pay $4 a ride). There's a reason you see so many bikes here: It's the fastest way to get around.
Greenpoint is a comfortable place in which to live, assuming you're not in a rush to get anywhere. Streets are quieter than in Williamsburg and there's a sense of community. The opening of Transmitter Park in 2012 brought 1.6 acres of much-needed green space to the East River waterfront. The park has pretty lawns, a pier for fishing, a playground and stunning Manhattan views. The 35-acre McCarren Park, which borders Williamsburg, has many recreational options, including tennis courts, a playground, summer outdoor movies and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Its newly renovated dog run has separate areas for small and large dogs, and benches for their owners. On the eastern end of the neighborhood, the quieter McGolrick Park has a playground and a well-kept dog run.
Greenpoint is a good place for families. Town Square Inc. , a community non-profit organization, schedules regular events for children, including outdoor concerts and parades. In bad weather, kids can play indoors at private spaces like Play and Gym Park.
TKTK from Joanna and John.
As a rule of thumb, residents allow 45 minutes to get anywhere other than north Brooklyn. You can hope that the trains come quickly, but the G train often takes its sweet old time, especially on weekends. On a good day, you can get to Grand Central or Union Square in a half hour. A trip farther uptown or downtown to Wall Street will run you at least 40 minutes. In the past few years, the G train has been extended to the southwest corner of Prospect Park, making it a little easier to get to other parts of Brooklyn. On the plus side, this commute allows plenty of reading time. Those working long hours in Manhattan might find the commute a drag. Williamsburg and Long Island City, Queens are similarly cool and industrial, but offer better subway options.
Franklin Street is the hipster center of Greenpoint. Close to the East River, it's lined with artful boutiques that seem to have been lifted from the pages of travel magazines. There's vintage-inspired jewelry at Old Hollywood, smart menswear at Alter, and cool clothing and accessories at Wolves Within. The indispensable Word bookshop hosts readings and book clubs. At the corner of Greenpoint Avenue, the Pencil Factory Bar offers over a dozen beers on tap. Although quiet during the week, the intersection of Franklin Street and Greenpoint Avenue can feel like a stylish house party on weekends. For some, the fact that HBO's Girls is set here adds to the allure.
Running parallel to Franklin Street, Manhattan Avenue feels more old-school, especially towards its northern end. It's lined with Polish shops and restaurants, catering to the large immigrant community here. Restaurants such as Christina's and Lomzynianka serve what is comfort food to some, hangover helper to others: stuffed cabbage, fried pierogies and sausage. As it gets closer to McCarren Park, Manhattan Avenue becomes an extension of Williamsburg. You can enjoy grass-fed beef and local brussels sprouts at Five Leaves, and obscure brews at Torst, a Scandinavian beer bar. As businesses like these creep north, the texture of Manhattan Avenue and its environs will doubtless change in coming years.
In the 19th century, Greenpoint was an industrial hub for the printing, iron making, pottery and shipbuilding industries. Its streets are evocatively named for people and places related to industry: Java, Huron, India and Quay. Shipbuilding and manufacturing declined in the 20th century, largely ending after the Second World War. Today, developers are clearing much of the area's industrial vestiges, but you can still spot traces of it. For example, a onetime pencil factory on Franklin Street is now condominiums, but the original pencils that adorned the top of the old factory remain.
Most who lived here in the early days worked in the local factories. Greenpoint's first immigrants were Dutch, English and Irish, followed by Poles, Russians and Italians. Some built their own homes. The brick Italianate row houses constructed by those early residents now give the neighborhood its architectural character. Parts of Kent Street, Milton Street, Noble Street, Manhattan Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue were designated a historic district in 1982.
862 Manhattan Avenue - St Anthony of Padua, a Gothic Revival church with a 240-foot spire, built in 1875.
47-61 Greenpoint Avenue — Part of of the old Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory complex, which operated here from 1872 to 1956. The company was one of the largest pencil manufacturers in the world. This distinctive building is embellished with terra-cotta stars and pencils on the facade of the top floor.
184 Franklin Street — The Astral Apartments, built in 1885, is an early example of tenement-style affordable housing. It was erected by Charles Pratt and named for his Astral Oil Works nearby.