WINTHROP VS. MCGOLRICK

McGolrick Park
© BasikKD from McGolrick Park Flickr Pool

I like to start trouble. After getting my paws on this website,  I discovered controversy and confusion over the name of our beloved park. It’s an old school versus new school debate and I am in the middle of it. I should listen to my Mom: “you can’t make everyone happy.” So instead I just piss everyone off. I get yelled at everyday over it. I can’t win!

I will admit, when I first moved here I misspelled and mispronounced it McGorlick (MICK – GORE – LICK) and rolled my eyes at the folks who called it McGoldrick (MICK – GOLD – RICK), but the proper spelling, pronunciation and OFFICIAL name of the park is Monsignor McGolrick Park (MICK – GOAL – RICK).

I met with my favorite “original” Greenpointer Justine, the website founder and she corrected my pronunciation, then said, “but that’s not really what the park is called. When we were kids we called it Winthrop Park.” But in a true Brooklyn accent (WIN-THROW)

Is your head spinning? People who grew up in the area often attribute the name to the former Winthrop Theatre, which is now the Met Food Supermarket on the corner of Driggs and Russell.

According to the NYC Parks department website, the 9 plus acre park was purchased by the City of Brooklyn in 1889 from Colonel Winthrop Jones, son of the parks commissioner, a born and raised Greenpointer who owned a lumberyard and worked as a printer. Then in 1941 the park was renamed for Monsignor Edward J. McGolrick, pastor of St. Cecilia’s for fifty years.

So it’s McGolrick, right? Not so fast. Original Greenpointers don’t like it one bit, and neighborhood transplants are just confused by Winthrop.

An amazing debate is playing out on facebook and I can’t say I am not guilty of ruffling feathers.

We promoted the 150th Anniversary BK Diggers event as the invitation said: McGolrick Park. Here was the response:

Ursula: For those of us born in the 50′s and 60′s…it was…and still is…Winthrop Park.
GP: We should tear the new sign down and put up one that says Winthrop Park!
Ursula: I agree.
Dana: … we original greenpoints know it as Winthrop even though the name is on a plaque. Ya Know :)
GP: I am going to make an effort to get everyone call it Winthrop. So you Greenpoint originals won’t know who is who!
Dana: Only the Hipsters call it McGolrick cause it’s against there beliefs to be normal, they need to be different, and change all that used to be, into something NEW!
GP: I think the city renamed it. Not the hipsters. Petition?
Arlene: Will ALWAYS be WINTHROP to me!
Doug: It was always Winthrop Park. And that “wonderful” movie theater nearby, the Winthrop Theater. Ah what memories!
Mic: Yes. Winthrop it is. Always.
GP: I am going to start correcting everyone from now on. ITS WINTHROP!

© Marofoto

When I spotted some interesting birds there I called it Winthrop and Martyna said, “only greenpointers know what Winthrop is.” I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. It was working. I was getting away with it. People were beginning to think I was an original.

Then I made a video and proudly called it Winthrop Park Halloween Dog Parade. I thought I was doing the right thing, but I was actually insulting some people.

Urusula: Yes!!! it’s Winthrop Park. I love it!!!
GP: I’m learning! Soon everyone will be like, “What’s McGolrick?”
Patricia: It is “Monsignor McGolrick Park” we worked very hard years ago to have the signs made and placed by the Parks Dept.
GP: I can’t win either way. If  I call it McGolrick, I get in trouble. So I started to call it Winthrop!
Patricia: I was the founder of Friends of McGolrick Park and was able to get Landmark status for it. We had the Colonnade renovated, playground refurbished and lots of other activities to improve the park. This was in the 80′s.

Then Twitter caught on:

The Parlour Brooklyn: “Where is Winthrop?”
Cherry_Blossomz: “Why do you call McGorlick “Winthrop”? I’ve lived around the corner for 10 years- never heard it called that until ur blog.”

Cherry even sent over some info (above) from Greenpoint USA, that includes historical articles from the Brooklyn Eagle archives (pictured above).

So I have accomplished a few things: 1. revealed my newbie-ness 2. concealed my newbie-ness 3. undermined the efforts of a neighborhood organization 4. confused people. Now what? Follow my Mom’s advice to “leave well enough alone!” I don’t think so. Maybe we combine the names: WINLICK? McGORTHROP? Both sound like intestinal disturbances. I personally like Winthrop, it makes me feel, “original,” even though I’m really just a troublemaker from Queens.

Dare I say, what do you think we should call it?

About Jen G

After living in NYC my entire life, I found the strongest sense of community in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Running this blog is truly an honor and the best part is meeting its readers in real life. Everyday I am energized by smiles and inspiring conversations with fellow Greenpointers who tirelessly do and create incredible things that are good for our community and share the same love I have for life here. If you see me walking with my little dog "D" - please say hi!

9 Comments

  1. Mary says:

    Jen – I love this! I am a transplant living in Greenpoint and I love Greenpoint for what it is. I’m not here to “hipsterize” anything. I understand where the natives are coming from with their disdain sometimes, but I wish more of them would embrace some of the newbies. We are here because we love it here, and we care about the neighborhood too! Little things like the names of parks or supermarkets replacing theaters are disturbing to people because it feels like newcomers are trying to cover up their memories, but a lot of us newcomers arent’ trying to do that – we just don’t know any better until someone tells us.

    Reply
  2. Justine says:

    Hahahaha! I love it.

    Did you intentionally use the misspelling in the post title? Or is that just to drive me crazy? ;)

    Reply
  3. Patrick says:

    So it was changed to McGolrick Park in 1941? That’s 70 years ago! I could understand this being an issue if the name was changed in the last few years, but 70 years is a long time. Do we still have to call Roosevelt Island by it’s pre-1973 name, Welfare Island? McCarren Park was Greenpoint Park until 1909. The G train was the GG train until the mid-80′s. Even old New York was once New Amsterdam, to quote a song.

    Reply
  4. I was born in Greenpoint in 1951 – I live on Bainbridge island, WA now. I never knew the park as anything other than Winthrop Park. Thanks for the new information.

    Reply
  5. Roark says:

    McGolrick is a nice reminder that Greenpoint was once dominated by the Irish.
    But Winthrop is a more common reference really.
    Funny the two sides of perspective.
    It does make me think though…
    Are people eventually actually going to call the Triborough Bridge the RFK in off-hand speak?

    Reply
    • Lori says:

      Grew up hanging out in Winthrop park as a teenager in the 80s. It was Winthrop (Winthrow) back then and it always will be to most people who grew up in Greenpoint. Oh, and we hung out under the “shelter” there.

      Reply
  6. Chuck says:

    Hello, I grew up in green point in the early 70s and used to play at Winthrop park. I am looking for pictures of the old cement circular slide which has since been taken down. If anyone would like to share old pictures I would appreciate it.

    Thank you

    Reply

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