This Quiet Brooklyn Neighborhood Survived One of the Country's Worst Oil Spills

Unless they live there, not a lot of New Yorkers interact with Greenpoint. Only one subway goes there, and it doesn’t go to Manhattan. The highway goes over it. The bridges do, too. But it’s one of the city’s most interesting neighborhoods, with some of the best bakeries, most interesting cars, and, oh yeah, a history of industrial accidents beyond what you can imagine.

(Welcome back to Carspotting! It’s been a while but we’re back with The Worst Walking Tour of New York City, headed by me, a hack who is barely qualified to tell you how to get to the Empire State Building from here. We’re out to find the best cars of the Big Apple.)

Advertisement

Greenpoint is the northernmost corner of Brooklyn. Walk out to its western edge and you’ll see Manhattan across the East River. Walk to its eastern edge, however, and you will find Newtown Creek, watched over by a giant waste treatment plant digesting poop.

Newtown Creek is the city’s other superfund site waterway. The butt of most jokes is the Gowanus Canal, usually wafting garbage smell over the Whole Foods that went up there a few years ago.

But Newtown Creek is the one that has my heart. It has the city’s most beautiful little bridges, oddly serene beaches beside industrial lots, and it has history.

Advertisement

That history is, sadly, the Greenpoint Oil Spill, which dumped three times as much oil as in the Exxon Valdez spill. Again, this is a creek. In the middle of New York City. And it was the site of one of the worst oil spills, industrial accidents, in American history.

I won’t get into how this fucked up Greenpoint itself, the lawsuits and the fumes and city inspectors turned away by residents fearing they’d get kicked out of their final affordable apartments in a gentrifying area. This piece by the New York Times details that better than I could.

Advertisement

But I can give you a little tour of it on foot, and show you some of its brighter spots: its fantastic streetparked cars and its even more fantastic bakeries, courtesy of its strong and old Polish community.

Watch the full video above, and stay tuned for more CarSpotting on the streets of New York.

Share This Story

About the author

Raphael Orlove

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.