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Wednesday’s walk took us to Greenpoint in Brooklyn, where I was born and raised.,_Brooklyn Until I was 11 years old, we lived in the same house that my Dad grew up in. (His mother had owned the house – a 2-family residence with a commercial space on the ground floor. When my dad was young, his mother owned a restaurant on the ground floor and during Prohibition, Dad helped make bathtub gin which my grandmother served in tea cups!)

We began our walk in Long Island City (which is in Queens) and walked over the Pulaski bridge. It’s an interesting spot as it connects Greenpoint and Long Island City (Brooklyn and Queens) and goes over the Newtown Creek which runs along the border between the two counties.

The creek was among the most polluted sites in NYC – along with the Gowanus Canal – (the EPA declared Newtown Creek a Region 2 Superfund site in 2009). As part of the clean-up, a Nature Walk was installed along part of its banks (right next to the Sewage Plant!). For more on the Nature Walk, including its construction, see

We did the Nature Walk. I particularly liked the maps of the area from the late 1800’s. This is very near to my childhood home – although we didn’t know how polluted the creek was back then. (Nor did we know about the underground lake of oil which had accumulated when various refineries had storage tanks in the area.)

After leaving the Nature Walk, we headed towards the Greenpoint Historic District which most New Yorkers don’t even know exists. Here you can find homes built in the 1850’s and 60’s as well as many banks and churches. (Greenpoint has long been known as the “borough of churches and saloons”.) According to : “A rich trove of intact churches with both row and freestanding housing. Pride of ownership here translates into buildings maintained (for the most part) in their original shape.”

Unfortunately, we could not get into any of the churches so we could only admire them from the outside. One example is St. Elias Greek Rite Catholic Church – like many churches in NYC, this building (built in 1870) originally housed a different religious sect - it was formerly the Reformed Dutch Church of Greenpoint.

Just up on the block on Kent Street is the Church of the Ascension; it really does look very much like an English country church.

On Kent Street, one of the main attractions is the Astral Apartments, built in 1886. Charles Pratt, who owned the Astral Kerosene Refinery, built this as housing for his workers. The building is patterned after apartments in London. Unfortunately the photos don’t show the brick work around the entrances.

After walking for a couple of hours, we headed to Manhattan Avenue for lunch. This street has always been the commercial area of Greenpoint – when I was a child, we often headed here for shopping forays. And back then there were a number of movie theaters on this stretch – all of which are long gone (even if remnants remain so that you know where they were). We wanted “Polish food” and we discovered “Christina’s Restaurant” (no kidding) serving “Polish-American food”. I had a Polish platter which was kielbasa, pierogies, stuffed cabbage, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Much of it tasted very “authentic” to me. My companion had a pork and mushroom dish which she enjoyed.

We resumed our walk down Milton Street where we continued to find many row houses or town houses. The styles differ but most of them are brick-fronted and have some great details – archivolts over the entrance doors, revival window lintels, cornices and an occasional extended porch. In one of the pictures, you can see St. Anthony’s in the right hand corner.

At the end of Milton Street on Manhattan Avenue is St. Anthony of Padua Church.

As we had been walking for a few hours, we decided to head towards the subway. Along the way, we passed this landmarked cast-iron clock:

We stopped in at a Polish butcher shop where I had stopped on our last visit. I chatted with the young guy serving us (who didn’t think his English was very good but it was definitely better than my Polish!) I bought some fresh kielbasa, smoked kielbasa and some zimne nogi (cold feet) which are pigs’ knuckles cooked with some spices and then, after the bones are removed and the meat cut up, left to settle in the drained juices which become a very tasty aspic. (I think the Germans make a similar dish which they call sueltz.)

Then we walked even further alongside McCarren Park (in the news last summer when they reopened the pool after many years and through the North Side to the subway.

I had left my apartment at 11:45 and got home at 5:30 – a really long walk for our first “true walk” of the season!!!

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