Art collective recreates the sights — and smells — of old Greenpoint

Art collective recreates the sights — and smells — of old Greenpoint
Courtesy of Library of Congress

What’s that smell? It’s Greenpoint in the 1860s!

Wooden smell boxes individually filled with horse manure, tar, spices and coal are just one reason to visit the “Monitor 1861,” an outdoor installation in McGolrick Park that will re-create the experience of walking through Greenpoint in the 19th century.

The one-day installation on Oct. 22 will be curated by a collective of artists and historians called the Brooklyn Diggers, and commemorates the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s order to construct the Monitor, a Civil-War era ironclad built in Greenpoint in 1861.

The “pop-up museum” will feature a 14-foot cardboard model of the ship, period costumes, food, and music performed live by folk outfit, the Depressionaires; a nautical knot-tying workshop; a walking tour; and those smell boxes to evoke the scents of 19th-century Brooklyn.

“We’re focusing on the building of the Monitor, but we’re not talking about the Battle of Hampton Roads — we’re talking about what life was like in Greenpoint,” said Emily Gallagher, founder of the Brooklyn Diggers, which is named after a English agrarian communists who revolted against Oliver Cromwell in the mid-1600s (but you knew that). “People know about the Monitor, but generally people don’t think about what it meant for the people who built it, and lived here, and worked in the iron factories.”

“Monitor 1861” at McGolrick Park (Monitor Street between Nassau and Driggs avenues in Greenpoint), Oct. 22, noon-6 pm.