Greenpoint, Williamsburg's neighbor to the north, was so named after it was purchased (as a part of Bushwick) from the Indians in 1638, but the grime and smut of industry have long since obliterated the original verdancy. Factories, warehouses, lumberyards, coalyards, and gas storage tanks line the Greenpoint shores of the East River and Newtown Creek, and occupy large parts of the neighborhood. Many of the workers in the plants live near by. The unemployed living here constitute one of the largest relief groups in the city.
Greenpoint is the birthplace of Mae West, the actress. The district's residents are credited with originating the widely publicized "Brooklynese" diction, wherein "err" stands for oil and "poll" for pearl. "Greenpernt" ranks with Canarsie and the Bronx as a butt for New Yorkers' jokes.
Kent Avenue, now lined with dilapidated piers and abandoned buildings, was a center of shipbuilding after the Civil War. Street names such as Java and India recall the once flourishing trade in coffee and spices with remote lands. The largest contemporary factories are those of the American Manufacturing Company (rope), and the Eberhard-Faber Company (pencils ) .
Russian Greek Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, North Twelfth Street and Driggs Avenue, is a light-brick structure in Byzantine style whose onion-shaped towers loom out incongruously over the drab Greenpoint sky line. Russians living in Greenpoint and Williamsburg make up its congregation.
The Brooklyn Pratt Works of the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, Kent and North Twelfth Streets, was the refinery of Charles Pratt and Company before it was absorbed by the gigantic Rockefeller men mergers of the 1880's. The original building, a large brick structure erected in 1867, is still in use. The Pratt company was famous for its "Astral Oil,, a high-grade kerosene so widely used that it provoked the remark that "the holy lamps of Tibet are primed with 'Astral Oil.'"
The abandoned ironworks, West Street between Oak and Calyer Streets, was the site of the building and launching of the historic ironclad Monitor. Still standing is a long, low brick building in which much of the work was done. Designed by John Ericsson, the "Yankee cheese box on a raft" slid off the ways on January 30, 1862, for its famed encounter with the Confederate armored ram Merrimac on March 9 of the same year, a victory that ushered in the era of the iron ship.
Monitor Memorial, in Winthrop Park, Monitor Street between Nassau and Driggs Avenues, depicts an heroic-size bronze figure tugging at a hawser. Designed by Antonio de Filippo, it was erected in 1938.