This is from Amazon by a reader: Well written and lively, Cobb has succeeded in bringing to life an underappreciated slice of New York history. Focused on the story of Henry Havemeyer, Cobb’s history weaves a tableau that includes the stories of the varied residents of the fast-evolving Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg at the height of its industrialization. A great read, and a great addition to Cobb’s other North Brooklyn histories. I highly recommend!
Come to Word Bookstore January 18th for an evening of local history.
Geoffrey Cobb’s third book of North Brooklyn history is as readable, informative and entertaining as the first two (“Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past” and “The King of Greenpoint”), but “The Rise and Fall of the Sugar King” differs from them in a few important ways. In this latest volume, not only has Cobb shifted his focus from the Greenpoint neighborhood to its southern neighbor Williamsburg, but he has also expanded the scope of his narrative. The book tells the story of the Havemeyer family and the ways in which their sugar refining business largely shaped the North Brooklyn that we know today, with a particular focus on Henry Havemeyer, the titular “Sugar King,” and his role in the sugar cartel that wrapped Gilded Age America in an economic stranglehold. It also describes the horrific working conditions in Havemeyer’s sugar refineries and the tremendous economic inequalities of the time, as well as the lives of everyday members of the Williamsburg community and their struggles with religious and racial prejudice and anti-immigrant sentiment – issues that, unfortunately, remain all too relevant today. “The Rise and Fall of the Sugar King” is a window into the history not only of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but America in general, and it tells the story of often-overlooked events that have led us to the present day in personal, individual and relatable terms – no small accomplishment.
The Sugar King is not just a historian’s perspective of north Brooklyn, it is a gripping journey in time of the development of NYC. It reads like a gripping novel, that had me gripped from the first page. As a NYC middle school teacher, I can only aspire to tell historical narratives with such accuracy and enthusiasm as Geoffrey Cobb. He has a way of weaving the Havemeyer’s story and intertwining it with NYC’s urbanization on a world scale. These pages turn an otherwise mundane tale of corporate greed, into vibrant tale with historical figures that seem to come back to life through the research of Cobb. Great book, great research, great author, and a must read.
https://geoffreycobb.com/2017/12/25/when-greenpoint-children-were-hungry-at-christmas-a-story-of-one-mans-huge-heart/Thank God we are able to eat well at Christmas. During the Great Depression people were hungry and Pete McGuinness, whom I described in my book ” King of Greenpoint” raised huge amounts of money to feed hungry families. This is a post I wrote last year about generosity during really hard times. McGuinness definitely had the Christmas spirit.
When I first saw Timothy Doyle’s canvases of Greenpoint I was thrilled. His paintings captured the feel of the area. Sadly, like many other talented local artitsts, Timothy no longer lives locally. He is a victim of the rapidly rising rents that are forcing out some of the most creative people here.
Doyle, born in Millbury, Massachusetts in 1977, Was studying theater production at Emerson College in 1996 when he discovered painting. After several years in Boston travelling and showing in alternative spaces, Doyle moved to Greenpoint in 2002. He started showing his artwork in cafés and theaters, adopting the attitude of an emerging rock band, showing as often as possible wherever he could. He also started a neighborhood based artist group called “Meeker Avenue Artists”.
In 2009, Doyle enlisted in the United States Army. After his enlistment, Timothy relocated to Arizon where he received a BA in Art History from the University of Arizona. While pursuing his degree, he continued painting and became a fixture in the downtown Tucson art . In January 2015, Doyle returned to Brooklyn to work for the Guggenheim. Currently, he lives and works in Central Massachusetts, but he misses Greenpoint and hopes to return. His paintings remind me of Joseph Bartnikowski, whose work I chronicled in my book, ” Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past.” They both paint local scenes with great color
Perhaps one of the readers can help him get a show. His work certainly captures some of the flavor of the neighborhood.