Close Up On: Greenpoint


Portions of this article have been updated.

Walk up Williamsburg’s industrial, wharf-wrecked Kent Avenue and you will be privy to a spectacular view of the city. Keep following the salsa-thumping cars, and when the music starts mixing with Larry Chesky’s polka hits, you will be in Greenpoint. Here it is still unmistakably unique to be among the young urban set that rides to Manhattan on weekdays, and you get to know your fellow train-riders. Weekends are squandered rummaging dusty thrift shops like the Vortex, eyeing the goods of the Jubilatka Bakery, or dining at the Thai cafés that dot Manhattan Avenue. As the sun drops over the East River, the sidewalks clutter with old people on foldout chairs and little Polish girls gossiping in thick Brooklyn accents on front lawns. Just like the fokin’ old days.

Population: In the ’80s, the Puerto Rican population grew, though the majority is still Polish. Greenpoint is also home to would-be Williamsburg darlings who are too punk to stick out rent hikes.

Boundaries: Newtown Creek to the north and east, North 7th Street (an area enterprising real estate agents have dubbed “North Williamsburg”) and the BQE to the south, and the East River to the west

Transportation: G train to Nassau or Greenpoint Avenue, or the L train to Bedford, and buses B61, B48, or B43

Main Drags: Nassau and Manhattan avenues

Average Price to Rent: studio, $1000 to $1200 ($600 to $900 (but there are barely any); one-bedroom, $1200 to $1500 ($850 to $1400); two-bedroom, $1800 to $2000 ($1200 to $1500) (mostly railroads); three-bedroom, $2500 to $3500 ($1800 to $2400).

Average Price to Buy: There are few co-ops. A one-family house sells for about $500,000 to $600,000 ($471,000); two-family, $800,000 to $900,000 ($400,000); and three-family, $1 million ($351,600).

Tip: Learn Polish. Prosze. Dziekuje. People will like you better.

Local Landmarks: The USS Monitor was built here, and the old-time piers are still in wreckage. Located at the end of Huron Street, these waterfront ruins are frequented during sunsets and on weekends by fishermen and kids playing stickball. At night, folks come to drink, and generally aren’t bothered by the kindly 94th Precinct cops. This spring, the city approved plans to build 150 feet of legit boardwalk space a few blocks south of the current hangout.

Claims to Fame: The birthplace of Mae West, as well as the bona fide Brooklyn accent, although Flatbush also vies for this title.

Best Restaurants: In keeping with the long-held tradition of kava (coffee)-drinking practices, the McDonald’s are always filled with old ladies people-watching instead of eating fries. For fantastic pierogi and borscht, head to Christina’s Polish Restaurant (853 Manhattan Avenue), but for burgers and milk shakes, go to SunView Luncheonette at North Henry and Nassau streets, where lunch runs about $3. Though Polish is the predominant language spoken, it’s Thai eateries like Thai Café (925 Manhattan Avenue) that mop up the Brooklyn competition.

Best Bars: Hipsters drink at Enid’s, at Manhattan and Driggs avenues, and upscale Irish pub the Pencil Factory (142 Franklin Street), while cool kids on a budget go to the divey Green Lounge (147 Franklin Street) and young pool-playing Poles to Splendid Bar and Café (132 Greenpoint Avenue). Old-timers avoid these places since it’s a sin to pay more than $2 per piwo (beer). They clutch their steins of Bud at joints like Murphy’s Tavern, on the corner of Calyer and Lorimer streets.

Nightlife: Unlike Billyburg, Greenpoint has been slow to develop its own scene. The exception is punk-rawk club the Polish National Home, or Warsaw (261 Driggs Avenue), where underground phenoms like Sleater-Kinney, Pere Ubu, and the Donnas flock for their exclusive NYC tour stops.

Happenings: The annual Hispanos Unidos de Greenpoint Carnival, held in August, takes place from Manhattan Avenue from Box to Dupont Streets. Art galleries line Franklin Street and are scattered in town.

Politicians: Councilman David Yassky, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, state senators Martin Malave Dilan, and Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez—all Democrats

Crime Stats: The 94th Precinct serves Greenpoint and Williamsburg. As of September 25, 2005, it reported 0 murders, 4 rapes, 116 robberies, 61 felonious assaults, and 175 burglaries. (As of October 13, it reported 3 murders, down 2 from last year; 5 rapes, up 2; 137 robberies, down 19; 204 burglaries, up 37; and 77 felonious assaults, down 7).

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