Greenpoint Gazette

Greenpoint’s Forgotten History Come Alive in New Book on Nabe

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Journey through 350 years of Greenpoint’s history with an all new book titled “Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past,” set for release June 16 at Dirck the Norseman, the bar named after the first European to settle the neighborhood back in 1645.

Geoff Cobb, a high school teacher, and a Greenpoint resident for quarter of a century is behind the book, which took four years of research and writing to complete.

Spanning hundreds of years of history, Cobb’s book focuses more on the lives of individuals than events. There are over a dozen main characters in the book, each unlocking a unique facet of the neighborhood’s history.

Cobb decided to write the book upon a friend’s suggestion that he put his passion for Brooklyn and New York to the page. But researching the history of the neighborhood he loved proved harder than expected. For starters, Cobb did almost all his research exclusively through documents stored in city libraries – primarily the Stephen Schwarzman building in midtown Manhattan and the Grand Army Plaza branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. There was very little historical information he could find online.

It’s also his first effort writing a book, and he self published the novel. But writing the novel was all the more important for him considering the rapid pace at which the neighborhood is changing.

“I think we are in a time of hyper-change, and it is really important for people to understand where we have been and what needs to be saved and remembered,” said Cobb. “The book plays a key role in bringing that out.”

The book is divided into four themes namely destruction, creation, corruption and courage – for Cobb those were the themes that highlighted the turning points in the neighborhood, and allowed him to focus on the essence of the story of Greenpoint.

Some of the stories in the book are about a Greenpoint boxer who fought for the world championships in the 1850s and 1860s, another reveals that Dirck the Norseman was too afraid to build a house in the neighborhood in the 17th Century until the Native Americans were defeated; and a third discusses a trolley strike in the late 1940s that brought Greenpoint into the limelight.

The response that I’ve gotten so far is really positive,” said Cobb of his novel. “But it goes without saying that there is an incredible sense of pride in this neighborhood, and an interesting history to back.”

Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past Book Launch, Dirck the Norseman, 7 North 15th Street, June 16, 7 p.m., the author will read select passages from the book at the event.

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