Greenpoint 1861, October 22, 2011, McGolrick Park

26 Oct

To view Emily Rawling’s 1861 photo-booth photography log on to


Greenpoint 1861, October 22, 2011 @ McGrolick Park

23 Sep

On October 25, 1861 the keel of the USS Monitor was laid. Come and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the USS Monitor and the workers who built Greenpoint and worked in the shipbuilding industry.  The Diggers will recreate Greenpoint circa 1861 for a one day festival that imagines North Brooklyn when it was the center of national trade and shipbuilding. The event will include a pop-up museum, smell boxes, nautical knot tying, food from the time, music and interpretation.

Come out, bring friends, kids, family and the pets. It will be a joyous occasion. See you there!

Date of Event: On October 22, 2011 at McGolrick Park the Brooklyn Diggers will host Greenpoint 1861 from 1-4pm.  Event is free

Directions: McGolrick Park is located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn between Russell and Monitor Street. Take the G train to the Nassau stop. Walk east on Nassau Avenue to Russell Street.


Feast Presentation Board and Objects-2nd Place Ribbon

10 Jul

Our (Accepted!!!) FEAST Proposal

30 Jun

That’s right folks! The Diggers will be reppin’ at FEAST Brooklyn on July 9th!  PLEASE attend!!! FEAST works by allowing the guests, who pay $25 for dinner, to vote on what art projects their money goes towards.  We want you to vote for us! Our proposal is below.

The Brooklyn Diggers are a collective of activists, historians and artists. Our aim is to reclaim the working class psycho-geography of our neighborhoods and to expose ignored perspectives in our history; encouraging residents and visitors to contemplate their lived environment with increased insight and empathy.
For our next project, we will re-create Williamsburg-Greenpoint circa 1861 for a  one-day participatory  festival along the waterfront, imagining when North Brooklyn waterfront was at the center of national trade and industry.   The handiwork of hundreds who occupied this neighborhood would make a major impact on United States Civil War.  Our festival will draw visitors into meticulously researched recreations of daily life during this period.  This will include demonstrations of old Greenpoint occupations, such as rope making, ship-building and metal-working. Costumed interpreters will engage visitors in conversation. Culinary historians will serve popular dishes from the period. The festival will also give us the opportunity to reconstruct, with participant help, a giant paper-mache model to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the USS Monitor, the Greenpoint-built Civil War ironclad that greatly aided the Union’s victory.  A marching band playing Civil War era music to create a festive atmosphere.  The event will conclude in a parade celebrating North Brooklyn’s Civil War history.
Our hope that is through immersing visitors in our imagining of Greenpoint-Williamsburg during this important time, we will remind New York City that North Brooklyn has long been a significant place– setting trends not just on the fashion pages of the New York Times, but actually contributing to major events in American History.

Proposed budget: $1,000 for supplies and specialist demonstrations

Project deadline: October 2011, to meet the 150th anniversary of the USS Monitor’s initial construction contract

Location:  Our first choice is the former site of Continental Iron Works on the Greenpoint Waterfront, our second choice is either East River State Park or Transmitter Park, our third choice is McGorlick, McCarren, or Barge Park.

What We’re Working on…

30 Jun

This past winter, I was at a meeting for Williamsburg Walks, and proposed the idea of some kind of battle/public participatory art project based on one by Duke Riley I’d seen at the Queens Museum.

This spring, the Diggers fleshed out the idea into a much more historically rooted, Greenpoint focused event.   The details are just starting to come together, but we’ve proposed it to FEAST Brooklyn.

Now, as a young history buff, I had always been obsessed with the American Revolution.  But living in North Brooklyn and working at the Tenement Museum has really gotten me much more invested in industrial era New York, and that, along with my boyfriend’s fascination with the Civil War has really led me to Continental Iron Works psycho-geographic doorstep.   Hundreds of people who walked the same streets that I walk every day, slept in the same rooms, waited for street cars where I now wait for buses… they had a major hand in the Civil War.  How were their lives similar to Greenpoint residents today?  How were they different?  What did their days look like, 150 years ago?  That’s what the Diggers aim to imagine.  I’m posting our proposal above.


To break up, turn over, or remove-(Jason)

16 Jun

Over a cool glass of lemonade, my interest in the Brooklyn Diggers began. How fortunate Emily and I should meet.

I moved to New York in 2010. Wow! And to think I’ve lived in 4 apartments and in 4 neighborhoods in less than a year. But what else would I do? Not much I imagine. New York is an experience. And yes, there are many more to be had. As of now I live and work in Brooklyn. Depending on who you ask, my neighborhood has numerous names: Flatlands to some, Canarsie to others and East Flatbush to most. Whatever the title, it’s loud, lovely and evermore surprising.

I’m an artist and a grower. My art practice is inspired by history and the role it plays in building identity. Food and performance are my primary mediums. As a grower, I work as the gardener-caretaker for the Wyckoff Farm House. Planting corn and sleeping in New York’s oldest house creates enormous wonderment.

Brooklyn’s spirit, diverse neighborhoods, forgotten structures and spaces are what I wish to explore, experience and share as a Digger. Log on, read the blog and take the ride that will make Brooklyn even more magical.


Time to start Digging… (emily)

16 Jun

Where did Brooklyn Diggers come from? It’s been an idea now for over a year, but now, now… I’ve got the impetus and collaborators to make it happen.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that valued and cared passionately about history. In fact, my first memory of a conversation that I wanted to be a part of was listening to my brother and father discuss the War of the Roses over the dinner table. I didn’t know what this botanical disaster was… but I wanted to, after that! As I got older, the history I was interested in got closer and closer to my front door. I was raised in Rochester, New York– where Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglass used to meet for tea and argue over whose civil rights should be granted first. When my Mother became my Girl Scout Leader, she made sure that we started learning about the struggle for Women’s Rights. It was shocking to me– the fact that people with righteous ideas had to LOSE so many times before they won. And how even after they won, they were frequently forgotten. Rochester has an incredible history, one where many social justice advocates were raised up– to name a few, Lillian Wald and Emma Goldman– and as many of these advocates and their ambitions grew, they would relocate to the big scene… New York City.

I came to New York in 2006 and, like many of you, thought, “how the hell will I afford to live here?” The answer was Queens. Then Brooklyn. And then I accidentally became obsessed with Brooklyn and all it’s many pockets. So obsessed with New York’s pockets in general that I became a tour guide (something my mother foresaw but I staunchly resisted out of pride for years.) The more I learned, the more questions I had. I didn’t want to hear about the Vanderbilts and the Whitneys anymore… I wanted to hear about the outsiders. Not the sexy bohemian Artists who were bankrolled even back in the day, but the people who never fit. Because I don’t fit, either. Classic New York intimidation moment.

Now I work at the Tenement Museum, but it’s only increased the itch.

Of course, Brooklyn has long been the stranger next door neighbor to Manhattan, and as the most populous borough in the most densely packed city in the US, it’s got more than it’s fair share of secrets and stories.

So these days I’m in Brooklyn, constantly stumbling over suggestive buildings and curious photos. Wondering about the origins of smells, the roots of rumors and what used to be in that rusted car lot.

Now, we’re going to try and find out. And have fun along the way.



Under Construction

14 Oct