I would love to know everything about how Greenpoint’s streets got their names. Many of them that I can figure out relate to American naval history or to local shipbuilding. The streets must have been named in the 1850’s and 60’s when Greenpoint was an important national center of shipbuilding and a lot of the names relate to the navy.
There are still a few I cannot figure out, but if you know something not posted here let me know.
So here we go. Many of our local schools are named for American nautical greats. John Ericsson, Middle School 126, is named for the inventor of the Monitor and obviously Monitor street is also named for the first ironclad in the United States Navy.
Samuel Dupont School, P.S 31, originally was on Dupont street, but was moved ( If you know when also please let me know) The school and street are named for Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont who was the first American naval officer ever to command ironclad ships, which again refers back to the Continental Iron works on Quay Street where the monitor was constructed. Fewer people know that many monitors were built at the Continental Works and that nine of the local ships were used in an attack, commanded by Du Pont on Charleston, South Carolina, though the attack proved highly unsuccessful.
Oliver Perry School on Norman Avenue ( P.S. 34) is the oldst continually used school building in New York City and is named for a naval hero in the War of 1812 who commanded the American fleet on Lake Erie, however there are other street names I believe also relate to the navy in the War of 1812. Eckford Street is named for the Scottish shipbuilder Henry Eckford who is called by some ” The father of the United States Navy.” If calling Eckford the father of the American navy is somewhat fulsome, then his contribution to the War of 1812 is not. The Scot Suspended all work at his New York shipyard and gathered his best workers and set out a few days after t for the approximately 300-mile journey to Sackets Harbor, New York, on the northeastern shore of Lake Ontario, where he set about establishing a naval base and shipyard. Despite terrible winter weather, Eckford not only quickly established a shipyard, but also quarters for the shipbuilders, mess and kitchen buildings, a hospital, offices, and blockhouses. in what once had been merely a quiet hamlet, and made Sackets Harbor one of the U.S. Navy’s main bases during the war.At the Sackets Harbor shipyard, where Eckford had a work force of over 200 carpenters by April 1813 and of over 400 by April 1814 and where he employed over 800 men by January 1815, Eckford and the Browns combined to build all U.S. Navy men-of-war launched on Lake Ontario during the war. Eckford actually went broke extending credit to the government, but his shipbuilding helped prevent a British invasion of New York State.
The next street I believe is related to exploits from shipbuilding is Dobbin Street. A Dobbin is a kind of horse and some people claim the street is named for horse barns that once existed there, but i believe that the street lost a letter and was originally intended to be called Dobbins Street in honor of Daniel Dobbins, who like Henry Eckford, was a War of 1812 shipbuilder on remote Presque Island where he constructed ships for the battle of Lake Erie. Some historians say that from a logistical point of view, building the fleet was an even greater accomplishment than winning the battle. Dobbins and his men labored through the harsh winter and soon discovered that very few gunboats could be built with the resources provided by Washington politicians or the Department of the Navy. Dobbins’ mathematical abilities and experience as a merchant captain made him invaluable in terms of acquiring supplies and developing new wilderness transportation routes. Perhaps it is also named for a Dobbins who was the first real estate developer who started to build houses in the Meserole Orchard.
Banker Street is named for the ship Chandlers ( They make brass stuff for ships) Banker and Schemerhorn who evidently once owned the area where Banker Street now runs. Milton Street is named for Daniel Milton who was a prosperous local sail maker. Quay Street is another name for a dock. Java and India Streets refer to the exotic places goods shipped into Greenpoint arrived from.
Clay street is named for a pirate who once sailed with Captain kidd Humphrey Clay who later settled down to the much more mundane task of running the ferry across Newtown Creek where the kosciuszko bridge now stands.
Diamond Street is a bit of a riddle. There was a Dimon shipyard in Greenpoint and perhaps the name was misspelled. The street definitely proceeded the excellent Diamond Bar on Franklin Street, which I believe is named for Diamond Dave, David Lee Roth of Van Halen, who definitely was not born in Greenpoint, nor has ever played the Diamond Bar.
I believe that Huron Street is named for the U.S.S. Huron a Unadilla-class screw steam gunboat commissioned 8 January 1862 and sold 14 June 1869. These Uneida class ships were built at the John Englis shipyard in Greenpoint.