For nearly two hundred years, from 1645 to 1840, this area, along with all of Greenpoint was a quiet farming community known as the “Garden Spot.” That all changed in the 1820s with the arrival of a Robert Moses like figure in Greenpoint: Neziah Bliss.
An industrialist, inventor and shipbuilder, Bliss had a vision for Greenpoint. Having made money in steamship building (he learned from Robert Fulton who’s portrait can be seen on tile in the Greenpoint Reform Church) Bliss made quick work of turning Greenpoint from a sleepy farming area into a proper town. First Bliss bought land from John Meserole, one of Greenpoint’s founding families, then married his daughter, and finally bought up all of Greenpoint and much of Long Island City.
With that done, Bliss felt he need to make Greenpoint more accessible - a complaint about the area that remains to this day. With this in mind Bliss built a bridge across the Bushwich Creek to connect to nearby Williamsburg, and in 1839 he opened Ravenswood turnpike, Greenpoint’s first street, which ran on the path of what is now Franklin St.
Still not satisfied in 1852, Neziah Bliss established a ferry service between 10th and 23rd streets in Manhattan and the foot of Greenpoint Avenue - the ferry dock would have been found right here at the site of the modern day “Transmitter Park.” It would have brought carriages, horses, and workers to and from Manhattan and unloaded them right here.
When 19th century ferry patrons debarked in Greenpoint, they were met with streetcar service that connected into the larger North Brooklyn and Western Queens Trolley Car system. After the Williamsburg and Queensboro Bridges were built, the Ferry was discontinued, and the land its docks occupied was sold for other uses.
The Transmitter designation for the plot comes from its 20th usage by radio station WNYC as a broadcast center. The broadcasting building still remains in the newly opened park.
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Only in Queens: Tasting Our Way Through New York’s Most Diverse Borough
Manhattan may have name-brand recognition and Brooklyn a certain cache, but Queens is the city’s largest and most diverse borough. Join us, May 17–20, to dig into Queens’ rich neighborhood life.