What Would Guido Do?

I created a little controversy recently when I referred to the Rat Man’s stomping grounds as being in Greenpoint. Addrobinson, a frequent New York Shitty commenter, noted:

Its funny you know him as the “rat maniac”, because to me & my friends he is “The Pigeon Maniac”. I always just assume that he was feeding the Pigeons and the rats took care of what the birds left behind. I also find it very odd that you consider that area to be “southeastern Greenpoint”, in all the years I have lived here that is the first time I’ve heard anyone even use that term, let alone call that area it.

What constitutes Greenpoint? This is a very contentious question. If you ask an old timer, as another commenter (Zeebah) suggested, he or she will tell you the area in question (Kingsland Avenue near Frost Street) is in Greenpoint. If you ask a real estate agent, he (or she) will call it Williamsburg. It is simply a matter of who benefits. Which brings me to this:

Martone’s Dairy

This rather nifty old photo can be seen at De Stefano’s Restaurant. Note the location where the picture was taken: Graham Avenue between Devoe and Metropolitan Avenue. Now let’s take a closer look at the neighborhood inscribed on this photo, shall we?

Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY

Interesting. My curiosity piqued, I asked the owner of the restaurant about this unusual piece of taxonomy. He explained to me that when he was a kid no one who lived in this area called it Williamsburg. That neighborhood was considered distasteful. Greenpoint, therefore, was used because it was considered to be “more classy”. So there have you.

What do I consider to be Greenpoint? Well, this map should give you a general idea.

What is Greenpoint?

The semi-transparent red line indicates the boundaries of the 11222 zip code. The additional shaded sections are areas I consider to be Greenpoint that fall outside this zip code. The more eagle-eyed among you will notice that the Greenpoint Hospital would be considered by many not to be in Greenpoint at all. It is also very telling to note that the engraved text (which read “Greenpoint Hospital”) which once graced the entrance of this building has been removed. I have little doubt this was done at the behest of a real estate professional. Perhaps the developer plans on having “East Williamsburg Hospital” inscribed its place?

I suppose there is no clear cut means of determining what constitutes Greenpoint— or any neighborhood, for that matter. Or is there? As daskol observed:

Guido, the mayor of Withers Street, will kick your ass if you refer to this area as Williamsburg. He might change his tune when it’s time to list his property.

I think it is time for us to stop bickering and ask ourselves a much more important question:

What would Guido do?

Miss Heather

Comments

14 Comments on What Would Guido Do?

  1. greenpointers on Wed, 28th Nov 2007 9:27 am
  2. I can see where the owner of De Stefano’s would say that. He’s right – back in the day Williamsburg was not somewhere desirable to live. I also consider Greenpoint to be even outside of your area as well. Kids from Skillman, Conselyea and Richardson went to my JHS (126) so I just always equated that area with “Italian Greenpoint”.

    I was born on Devoe before we moved to Humboldt St when I was 6. My loose lines were that after Metropolitan it was a different neighborhood. Infact when I hungout on Powers St we called it Bushwick.

    Come to think of it, I don’t ever really remember using the term Williamsburg as a kid. There was the North Side and the South Side and Bushwick.

  3. missheather on Wed, 28th Nov 2007 9:43 am
  4. I think we need to meet this Guido chap. Seriously.

  5. zeebah on Wed, 28th Nov 2007 3:20 pm
  6. Funny you should mention Guido! He’s the one who originally told me about that part of the nabe being Greenpoint. He & his wife Tish are regulars at just about every community event. They’re the heads of the Concerned Citizens of Withers Street… I first came into contact with them at an OUTRAGE meeting (which, if you’re interested in the truck traffic & waste transfer stations in the neighborhood, you should check out.)

    Oh? And another tidbit I learned from a community meeting? Devoe is not Duh-voh, but De-voo. :)

    Sadly, we’re no longer E. Williamsburg residents as of today. Boo. I’m going to miss it.

  7. missheather on Wed, 28th Nov 2007 3:32 pm
  8. Congratulations, you just moved up! In my book, anyway. I want to meet Guido. If for no other reason because I have never met a man named Guido. What’s more, I think we’d get along nicely.

    That said, this whole neighborhood thing is stupid. You make the neighborhood, not the other way around. If the world was a perfect place (and it isn’t) I’d buy the leopard print house on Beadel Street and live there ’til the day I die. Alas, Robert Moses effectively murdered that section of Greenpoint. But it hasn’t kept developers from building condos around it. As P.T. Barnum was reputed to say: there’s a fool born every minute.

  9. Williamspoint_Greenburger on Wed, 28th Nov 2007 3:36 pm
  10. You just confirmed my suspicions! I live AROUND THE CORNER from the 1945 “Greenpoint” photo. When I moved here in 1997 my landlord insisted the neighborhood was Greenpoint, despite the 11211 Williamsburg zip code and a voting district that was one of the four original wards of Williamsburg. I figured to a long-time Italian-American resident, “Williamsburg” represented (A.) the then-drug/prostitute/crime-ridden Hispanic neighborhood south of Grand Street up to the BQE, continuing south of Metropolitan Avenue from the BQE to the river; and (B.) the Hasidic neighborhood around Broadway and beyond. “Greenpoint” really didn’t have a negative reputation at the time–it was off the radar. Of course, as the rents rose my landlord was happy to identify us with the “W” word. Money (rent increases) talks; bullshit gets gentrified!

  11. Williamspoint_Greenburger on Wed, 28th Nov 2007 3:42 pm
  12. Two more quickies:

    I live on Devoe. They do say De-voo!

    Also, the old bank on the corner of Graham and Grand is the old Bushwick Savings Bank (now a WaMu), so maybe that’s why Powers Street was considered Bushwick by “greenpointers.” All of Williamsburg and Greenpoint were part of the original Dutch town of Bushwick. They broke away in the early 1800s.

  13. missheather on Wed, 28th Nov 2007 3:56 pm
  14. Williamspoint_Greenburger (I love your name and your input): methinks I should give a history lesson about “Bushwick” and Greenpoint! The Garden Spot was (un)settled by Dirck the Norman and a handful of Walloons. A number of streets in Greenpoint and Williamburg are named after their progeny.

    Thanks for giving me another “project”, Mister Greenburger! ;)

    H

  15. Eckford9 on Wed, 28th Nov 2007 4:13 pm
  16. BTW, the pronunciation of “Devoe” as “Devoo” is an artifact of the Dutch language still surviving in NYC and Brooklyn, like “How-ston” for Houston Street, “oe” being pronounced “oo” in Dutch, and “ou” being pronounced “ow.” Also: “Skermerhorn” instead of “Shermerhorn” for Schermerhorn Street. There are some others that I can’t remember right now.

  17. missheather on Wed, 28th Nov 2007 4:51 pm
  18. Eckford9: Do you know how hard it is for me to pronounce “Houston” in the proper manner here? It’s a matter of familial pride: I am a (legitimate!) descendant of Sam Houston. You know, the guy that bigass city in Texas is named after. ;) He was an interesting person, if Jeffersonian in his hypocrisy; he was pro-Union (North) when it wasn’t cool, yet was a slave holder.

    Hence why he was ousted and Texas seceded from the U.S.

  19. lisanne on Wed, 28th Nov 2007 5:00 pm
  20. In Carroll Gardens we got a street named Luquer which is pronounced La Queer, or if your from NY, La Queeah, is that Dutch too?

  21. Eckford9 on Wed, 28th Nov 2007 5:21 pm
  22. I have nothing on “LA Queer,” (Luquer looks like a Wallon name) but it reminds me that one time when I was in France, they told me that French tourists don’t buy those otherwise popular souvenir shirts and sweatshirts that read “N Y P D,” the reason being that if you pronounce “P D” phonetically in French it means “queer” and few French people will put up with passers by squinting at their chests and saying: “New Yorque pay-DAY?” I guess the sme would go for “L A P D”

  23. daskol on Thu, 29th Nov 2007 6:16 pm
  24. “BTW, the pronunciation of “Devoe” as “Devoo” is an artifact of the Dutch language…”

    Did the Dutch also settle LA? Is that why they call “Le Deux” “Le Doo” on the Hills?

    If you want to meet Guido, it’s easy enough–walk down Withers between Humboldt and Graham. Be a girl. Smile at the first robust looking older Italian fellow you see. Repeat, if necessary (it won’t be). Make sure you have a little time to chat.

  25. Kevin Walsh on Thu, 29th Nov 2007 9:49 pm
  26. There ain’t no good guy. There ain’t no bad guy. There’s only you and me, and we just disagree.

    http://www.forgotten-ny.com/NEIGHBORHOODS/east.willie/eastwillie.html

  27. daskol on Fri, 30th Nov 2007 1:13 pm
  28. If you really are looking for Guido, it would be between Woodpoint and Humboldt–got the block wrong.

    I humbly offer as a name for the area in contention “East Side”, the Italian-flavored cousin of South Side and North Side. East Williamsburg can be the part of Bushwick that is “gentrifying”–realtors are ahead of the curve here. Greenpoint is still Greenpoint, and it ends at the BQE. The area east of the BQE but north of East Side, which includes Beadel Street and other less inspiring vistas, will have no name–it is the tomb of the eviscerated neighborhood.

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