I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a total nerd for archival photos and maps. NYPL just released over 20,000 original maps, scanned in high resolution, and available for free use via Creative Commons, like this intricate rendering of Long Island City. Many of them are even “rectified” meaning you can see the points that match up to modern day Google Maps, to perfectly orient yourselves. It’s pretty amazing.
Greenpoint on its own, however, is slightly more difficult to find by name because it was grouped into a township of the “City of Williamsburg.” The 19th Century maps tend to refer to the area as the “town of Green Point” (Bushwick is also referred to as a town). Fun fact: Williamsburgh even had its own City Hall.
Here’s a map of Williamsburgh and the Southernmost part of Greenpoint circa 1852.
One thing that stood out from these early maps is the indentation of “Bushwick Creek,” an inlet that stretched from the East River to Newton Creek, making up the area where McCarren Park now sits. It appears that both Franklin and “5th Street” which according to our readers, is now Driggs, had bridges over the water, separating Williamsburg from Greenpoint much more clearly than today.
And check out this population count. Looks like Williamsburgh had a huge population increase between 1840 and 1850. Note: this probably only includes that very Northern tip of Greenpoint.
Below is another map detail, from the above book of Greenpoint, published in 1852.
Here’s a close-up of the other side of McGuinness, including Winthrop Park (a.k.a. McGolrick) from 1898. It also mentioned “Heirs John Meserole” who we can assume is the namesake for the Avenue. According to Peter Ross’ History of Long Island, Peter Meserole, of the same family, had a farm that spanned 40 acres of Greenpoint from Calyer to Meserole and Southward to what is now Norman avenue. John Meserole was a Captain who also had a farm between what is no Norman and Nassau. Basically, North Brooklyn was a farmland until approximately 1845 when “the farms of Greenpoint began to disappear and a village sprang up in their place.”
There’s a rabbit hole of historical information in every one of these maps. Happy hunting!