Settlers first used the term "Greenpoint" to describe a small piece of land extending into the East River at the end of what is now Freeman Street—just two blocks from Tend Greenpoint. Greenpoint is the northernmost neighborhood in Brooklyn, tucked between Newtown Creek and the East River. Historical records from that time depict the neighborhood as beautifully abundant and green. The landscape, once dotted with creeks, saltwater marshes and local flora and fauna, is now home to a growing neighborhood dotted with restaurants, shops, bars, and local businesses.
The early citizens of Greenpoint developed the area into a major agricultural center. Its grains, fruits, vegetables and livestock were shipped into Manhattan as well as back to Europe. Many local streets are still named after those original farming families. Greenpoint eventually began to stand out as a shipbuilding hub, along with printing, pottery, glassworks, foundries and, eventually, oil refining. While this was an economic boon, it was an environmental disaster. In 1919 the Standard Oil refinery caught fire, spilling oil into Newtown Creek. Over the last century, up to 30 million gallons of oil—the largest continuous spill in US history—have seeped into the creek and subsequently into a 50-acre groundwater and soil plume. The spill wasn’t discovered until 1978 and still exists today. The lasting effect of this pollution still present a challenge to the neighborhood’s soil and air quality.
Greenpoint is returning to its “green” roots more and more every year. Organizations like the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, using money gained from oil-related lawsuits, have been able to fund various local green initiatives. These initiatives have focused on adding green spaces for recreation and relaxation, planting more trees in the neighborhood, funneling storm water away from our shared sewer system, and even rebuilding our public library in the form of a LEED-certified building with an environmental education center.
The green is coming back to our neighborhood and Tend Greenpoint is excited to be a part of the initiative.
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