Last modified: 2011-10-21 by rick wyatt
Keywords: greenpoint | new york |
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image by Guillermo Tell Aveledo, 19 August 2000
"On February 10, 1967, the Greenpoint Weekly Star carried a story titled "Flag Entry Deadline March 30." The newspaper reported that the Greenpoint Civic Council Flag Committee had set a deadline for a contest they had planned: They were soliciting applications and designs for a flag that, once chosen, would be the first community flag in America. The council members - Joseph Savino, Ralph Carrano, Cathy Meyers, Ray Mizgalski, Hyman Shiffer, Mary Driscoll, Frank J. Waskiewicz, and Edwin Duffy - appealed to the community for their entries.Guillermo Tell Aveledo, 19 August 2000
Rather than selecting the winning design in some backroom, the council, with cooperation from the newspaper, proposed a typically democratic procedure - the community would vote by submitting ballots printed in the Greenpoint Star. Four proposed designs, each of which pictured in editions of the paper, appeared on the ballot.
The top vote getter was submitted by a young woman named Ann Kandratino, the granddaughter of Russian immigrants, and she was heralded in the community as "Greenpoint's 'Betsy Ross'.""
On June 7, 1967, the flag-depicting a scene on the East River, with the buildings of Greenpoint in silhouette, pictured on a white background-was raised for the first time. It was an extraordinary celebration. Mayor John V. Lindsay, spent the afternoon touring the neighborhoods of Greenpoint. It was a remarkable and memorable day for the community."
Apparently, and sadly, the Greenpoint Community Flag has long fallen into disuse. This page has a recent interview with its instigator, Ralph Carrano:
http://www.blockmagazine.com/features/i16v1_feature1.html (page no longer available):
Carrano rummaged through his collection of boxes in search of the now elusive Greenpoint flag. "When we first made this flag there was a lot of commotion about it," he said. "During the big parade, there was a float that had the flag on it. Many businesses ordered flags and had them hanging in their storefronts. And then people started stealing them. And they started disappearing." It used to hang in McCarren Park, but now only a few flags even exist. All that now remains of the flag are a few clippings and photographs. Almost forty years have buried the Greenpoint flag into memory. Still, Carrano feels the fervor the flag brought to the neighborhood was important in the 60's. "People loved the flag. I think every neighborhood should have a flag, it helps them become famous," he said. "There was talk about Bed-Stuy getting a flag, but I never heard anything about it."Mr Carrano did manage to find one old flag in his files, and there was a picture of him holding it up it on the page. The ship on the flag is the USS Monitor, the first almost entirely iron-built battleship, with the first rotating turret, that was launched from Greenpoint in 1862 and served and was lost in the US Civil War. The bridge represented on the flag I think must be the Williamsburg bridge.
...The Greenpoint flag may never fly in Greenpoint again, but, sifting through some of the clippings Carrano had kept, it becomes evident that it left its mark by bringing together a community in relation to its physical boundaries.
Greenpoint is located at the northwest-most corner of the Borough of Brooklyn. It has a bit of notoriety from films in the 1940s where some colorful Brooklyn characters were sometimes said to have come from "Green-pernt". The phrase on the flag - The Garden Spot - is attributed to Congressman John Rooney, who represented Greenpoint in the 1950s and 1960s. Allegedly, he was being ribbed about his working class district of streets, bluestone sidewalks, and brick warehouses. His reply was, "Why, I come from Green-pernt, Garden Spot of the World!" The claim may seem ironic to the casual visitor, but to those of us who lived there, where every shotgun apartment rowhouse had a garden in the back, the phrase seemed very descriptive. Depicted on the shield, floating in the river in the foreground, is a representation of the USS Monitor, the famous ironclad ship of the US Civil War. The Monitor was built in a shipyard in Greenpoint. The shield also shows a suspension bridge and city buildings. There isn't a suspension bridge in Greenpoint, though one has an excellent view of the Williamsburg Bridge from the waterfront as well as a breathtaking view of midtown Manhattan. Perhaps the bridge and buildings are meant to indicate that Greenpoint is a part of Brooklyn (as noted by the suspension bridge, reminiscent of the Brooklyn Bridge) and New York City.
Zen Wójcik, 24 July 2004