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Don’t fugheddaboudit: Book reveals Greenpoint’s ‘Forgotten Past’

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Some hidden history is coming out.

A long-time Greenpoint resident and blogger reveals stories from the neighborhood’s forgotten past in his new book, which he will read from at Word Bookstore on July 9.

Greenpoint today is very different from the quiet, blue-collar place it used to be, said Geoffrey Cobb, the author of “Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past.” At one time, he said, Greenpoint was one of the most industrialized places in the world.

“Greenpoint has totally changed,” said Cobb. “It used to be a sleepy working class place with little nightlife. Now the bars and restaurants are truly amazing.”

While writing the book, Cobb discovered that in 1872 the neighborhood had its own national championship baseball team, the Eckfords, and that one of the team’s members made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He also learned about a local Irish terrorist cell that tried to bomb London, and that a candidate in the 1916 Presidential election, Charles Evans Hughes, hailed from Greenpoint.

Cobb, who leads walking tours of the neighborhood, has lived in Greenpoint for more than 20 years. He also teaches history at a local high school and runs the popular Historic Greenpoint blog. Cobb said that his love for the neighborhood and its residents inspired the book. Cobb said what he loves most is “its people who are unpretentious, hardworking, solid, no-nonsense Brooklynit­es.”

At Word, Cobb will share some stories from the book, including ones about Aaron Burr’s visits to Greenpoint to court a local girl despite being engaged to another woman, the oil industry’s destruction of the Newtown Creek, and some tales about Greenpoint’s movie star Mae West. Cobb says that he wants these stories to give fuller picture of the neighborhood.

“I believe that Greenpoint’s story has never been fully or properly told,” Cobb wrote on his blog. “What I tried to do is to create a history that went beyond a superficial description of events. I wanted to capture the reality of people’s lives at certain moments in local history.”

“Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past” with at Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbrooklyn.com]. July 9 at 7 pm. Free.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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