by Jessica Podkalicki
I grew up here. Went to school at a local Catholic school. Was one of the children playing soccer in McGolrick Park. Shared many a milkshake at the luncheonette diner near that very park. And when I was old enough, I become a frequent visitor to the Brooklyn Public Library and Peter Pan Donuts.
More than a decade later, I am still here in Greenpoint. But Greenpoint and Williamsburg feel like different places. The Glasslands just had their final event four months ago. The “Good Room” replaced Club Europa. I am no longer afraid to walk past McCarren Park at night.
The charming and cultured Greenpoint is home to a different group of people, followed by new places to eat, drink, and visit. Polish, Italian, and Irish immigrants, families that have been Greenpoint/Williamsburg residents for over 50 years now struggle to keep their houses and businesses. Instead of serving local Polish food, places in Greenpoint serve the newest, most popular cuisine. Old industrial factories throughout Kent and Wythe Avenues are under-construction, destined to become extravagant condominiums. No part of Williamsburg or Greenpoint is ignored.
People were once scared to come near Brooklyn. Now, this is the place everyone wants to be.
As a previous intern at NAG, I was tasked with categorizing all the historical industries in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Part of this included pinpointing the sites of industrial businesses and finding out what happened to the sites today. Of course, barely a handful of these businesses are still around. One of the focuses of NAG over the past years has been the Domino Sugar Refinery — or, more accurately, the site of the previously operating Domino Sugar Refinery on Kent Avenue. Last month, construction began on the first of five buildings — which will house 2,300 apartments — at the site of the former refinery.
More changes are a-coming in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Some of these changes are for the best, like the upcoming renovations to the Greenpoint Library. It is a bit safer to walk at night. It’s hard not to be nostalgic, though. At least popular places like Peter Pan Donuts and Fortunato Brothers are still open and thriving. Even the G train is more functional.