Ten spots you should see in Greenpoint
Eye On Real Estate
Polish enclave. Hipsterville. Manufacturing haven. Waterfront neighborhood.
Don’t you love Greenpoint?
This is a checklist of places you should see if you want to claim you know the neighborhood well.
It focuses on architecture and scenery rather than restaurants and stores.
If you don’t already have favorite spots to eat, drink and shop in Greenpoint, make sure to walk up Franklin Street, where storefronts are filled with interesting tenants like independent bookstore Word (126 Franklin St.) and Mrs. Kim’s (160 Franklin St.), whose menu includes “Korean hangover stew.”
Stroll along Manhattan Avenue, where popular spots include Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop (727 Manhattan Ave.), which Gothamist once called “the tastiest (and cutest) donut shop in all the land,” and Eastern District (1053 Manhattan Ave.), a store stocked with craft beer and wonderful cheeses.
Also, stop by Ovenly (31 Greenpoint Ave.), which bakes beautiful cakes and memorable scones.
#1. WNYC Transmitter Park
The thunderstorms here are Instagram-worthy.
From the shoreline of WNYC Transmitter Park, you can watch purple clouds cluster over the World Trade Center and see lightning bolts flash near the Williamsburg Bridge. You’ll have a window of time to snap photos before the rain arrives on the side of the East River where you’re standing.
The park is on West Street between Kent Street and Greenpoint Avenue.
We’re posting additional photos in a separate story.
By the way, when the weather clears up, Brooklyn Barge Bar is right next to the park. The 1940s-vintage barge is a scenic place to buy a drink — or go kayaking.
#2. Eberhard Faber Pencil Company factory, 61 Greenpoint Ave.
Those glazed terra-cotta pencils are about 10 feet tall.
See them? They’re lined up along the roofline of 61 Greenpoint Ave., the most eye-catching building among a cluster of landmarked factories that Eberhard Faber Pencil Company occupied until 1956.
Another decoration that appears in a repeating pattern on Art Deco-style, 1920s-vintage 61 Greenpoint Ave. is Faber’s logo, a star inside a diamond. The business-savvy manufacturer, established in Germany in 1761, was a branding pioneer during the 19th Century.
A water tank atop the building is visible from afar. A graffiti message on it says, “I will miss you.”
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission’s 2007 designation report about the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company Historic District calls 61 Greenpoint Ave. the “signature building” in the factory complex.
Most of the workers at Faber’s factories were women, the designation report notes.
Several years ago, 61 Greenpoint Ave. was converted from a warehouse to a commercial building. One current occupant is PencilWorks, a shared-office and coworking space provider.
The building has belonged to Guard General Merchandise Co. since 1977, city Finance Department records indicate.
#3. Mechanics and Traders Bank of Brooklyn
This old-fashioned architectural icon has huge round-arched window bays and a prominent corner location.
The former Mechanics and Traders Bank of Brooklyn at 144 Franklin St. is a neo-Classical brick, stone and terra-cotta building constructed around 1895. It’s located in the Greenpoint Historic District, which was designated in 1982.
The property, which is on the corner of Greenpoint Avenue, was converted into a co-op apartment building in the 1980s.
#4. The Astral Apartments
Charles Pratt, who was the richest man in Brooklyn back in the day, built the picturesque Astral Apartments at 184 Franklin St. as housing for workers at his oil refinery.
The Queen Anne-style brick and terra-cotta building, which has frontage on India and Java streets, was designed by prestigious architecture firm Lamb & Rich and constructed in 1885 and 1886.
The amenities originally included in the building were “a radical departure from standard 19th-Century design for working-class flats,” notes the 1983 Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report about the Astral Apartments.
This individual city landmark has belonged to an LLC with Joseph Pistilli as managing member since 2002, Finance Department records show. Before that, Joseph and Anthony Pistilli owned it for many years. It’s a rental-apartment building.
#5. Greenpoint Landing’s 21 Commercial St.
The tip of the iceberg.
That’s what 21 Commercial St. is — the first small piece of a mega-development called Greenpoint Landing.
Construction is nearing completion on the six-story affordable-apartment building whose tenants are being chosen by lottery and whose rents are as low as $494 per month. Park Tower Group and L+ M Development are constructing this and two other all-affordable buildings in the waterfront complex.
Two high-rise Greenpoint Landing rental-apartment buildings will be co-developed by Park Tower Group and Brookfield Property Partners.
Finance Department records show that last October, an LLC headed by Brookfield Property Partners’ Chairman Richard B. Clark paid $46,485,643 for one site, 37 Blue Slip, which previously used 37 Commercial St. as its address. According to city Buildings Department filings, a 30-story tower with 372 apartments is planned for this location.
A different LLC also headed by Clark paid $59,757,356 for a second site, 41 Blue Slip, Finance Department records indicate. Buildings Department filings show that a 401-unit, 39-story apartment tower is planned there.
#6. St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church
It’s 240 feet tall. Now that’s a church spire to be reckoned with.
It soars skyward atop High Victorian Gothic-style St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church at 862 Manhattan Ave.
This red-brick church with stone trim, whose cornerstone was laid in 1873, is located at the foot of Milton Street in the Greenpoint Historic District. The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report about the neighborhood calls it the finest Brooklyn church that prominent architect Patrick Charles Keely designed.
#7. Manhattan Avenue Park
Where Manhattan Avenue dead-ends at the confluence of the East River and Newtown Creek, there’s a tiny waterfront park with interesting urban views.
Next to Manhattan Avenue Park there’s a fine old factory complex at 1205 Manhattan Ave. where rope was made.
The city wound up owning the former Chelsea Fiber Mills due to a 1974 tax foreclosure. Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center, acting as a nonprofit local development corporation, acquired the factory in the 1990s and fixed it up. It is now tenanted by small manufacturing businesses and artisans.
#8. The Box House Hotel
The Box House Hotel charms the eye — and not just because it has old-fashioned Checker cabs parked out front.
The inn at 77 Box St., which opened in 2012, has curvy industrial-style Art Moderne exterior walls, which are partly made of glass blocks.
It was developed by an LLC whose sole member is Joseph I. Torres Jr., which had owned the site since 1999, Finance Department records indicate.
The Box House’s curvy walls remind us of another Greenpoint Art Moderne building — the former Harte & Co. factory at 280 Franklin St.
This property, also known as the Nuhart Plastics building, unfortunately sits on land that’s so polluted with toxic chemicals, it’s a state Superfund site. It’s the building where a rave was scheduled last Halloween but cancelled at the last minute, leaving hundreds of party-goers waiting outside.
The shuttered 1930s-vintage factory is also a must-see, by the way. It’s going to be torn down for residential development — after an environmental cleanup, of course. The best-case scenario for Art Moderne fans is that the developer might incorporate elements of the factory’s curved corner into the new buildings on the site.
#9. The Pulaski Bridge
Newtown Creek looks beautiful from this height.
The Pulaski Bridge, which connects Greenpoint and Long Island City, Queens, has a sidewalk protected by barriers separating pedestrians from bicycle riders and cars. Near the middle of the 1950s-vintage drawbridge, a spot that’s not surrounded by chain-link fencing is a good place to take photos.
#10. Newtown Creek Nature Walk
This is the quirkiest nature walk we’ve ever taken. And we’ve lived in four countries.
Concrete and granite were used in abundance to create the Newtown Creek Nature Walk, whose entrance is located at the end of Paidge Avenue.
A pathway winds around the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant — that’s some seriously urban scenery — along the shores of Newtown Creek and Whale Creek.
There are canoe and kayak launches — and signs warning boaters to wash their hands and clothes if they come in contact with water or sediment, since the latter “may be contaminated with chemicals.”
No kidding. Newtown Creek is a Superfund site.
Environmental sculptor George Trakas designed the nature walk, which was built by the city Department of Environmental Protection.
We’re posting additional photos in a separate story to give you a better idea of what the nature walk looks like.
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