HAVEMEYER PARK, Williamsburg

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Havemeyer Park was recently [2012] hewn out of what was formerly an empty lot and before that, a series of warehouses connected by a waterside railroad along Kent Avenue between South 3rd and South 4th Streets. The park boasts views of both the old Domino sugar refinery and the Williamsburg Bridge. There’s a rough and ready feel about the place, with its portable picnic benches and umbrellas, farmers market, and even a polyester teepee likely placed there by parkgoers. Since this is Williamsburg there’s also a bike track and a yoga patch. Movies are also shown on portable screens that are moved in and out.

 

The park and Williamsburg’s Havemeyer Street were named for one member or the other of the 19th Century German immigrant Havemeyer family. You can take your pick which one — brothers Frederick C. and William, who opened a sugar refinery in Manhattan; Frederick C. Jr., who opened another sugar factory in Williamsburg; William F., who became a 3-term NYC mayor; F.C. Jr.’s son Henry, who renamed the sugar factory Domino and came to dominate the market.

According to local legend, when the Domino sugar refinery at Kent Avenue and Grand Street was working, the smell of caramelized sugar could be sniffed in the immediate vicinity. The plant, instantly recognizable from the J train on the Williamsburgh Bridge or from boat traffic in the East River by its huge illuminated sign, shut down in early 2004 after about 150 years in business, putting 200 employees out of work. American Sugar Refining Company officials said the Brooklyn plant was not equipped to compete with its plants in Baltimore, Yonkers, N.Y., and outside New Orleans. The red neon Domino sign will be retained, but the plant itself will now be the centerpiece of a luxury housing development. It’s on the waterfront, meaning any housing built there will be out of the price range of any former Domino plant workers.

8/27/14





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2 Responses to HAVEMEYER PARK, Williamsburg

  1. Ginny Havemeyer says:

    I love this article. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Tal Barzilai says:

    I would have been nice if the developer could preserve much of the former factory rather than tear it down.

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