Greenport Renaissance – Explore the Historic Port City

Greenport, a village that has undergone many changes, is an example of the resilience and adaptability so common on the North Fork. The village has just over 2,000 residents living within a 1.2 square mile radius.

Although Greenport has become a destination for summer visitors, it still retains its “real town” feel, with many year-round residents and businesses.

Explore Greenport

Some of the mainstays are the IGA, Burton’s Books and Claudio’s. The school (K-12), the library and the hospital establish the community. The Main Street waterfront business district has many small shops offering local food and wine, coffee, gifts and art.

Greenport CarouselCourtesy of the Village of Greenport

Mitchell Park on Peconic Bay is a great place to watch the ferry to Shelter Island or catch a sunset. Its main draw is the historic carousel, built in 1920, with beautifully sculpted and hand-painted horses ($2.50/ride, daily in season, weekends year-round).

Camera Obscura at Mitchell Park in Greenport
Camera Obscura at Mitchell Park in GreenportOlivier Peterson

Mitchell Park is home to a rare camera obscura, one of only five in the United States and 50 worldwide. They were popular attractions before the advent of photography. A small opening in a dark room lets in light which is reflected in a rotating mirror, enhancing the scenic beauty of the outside world.

In winter, an outdoor rink offers ice skating and lessons. (Mitchell Park: 631-477-2200)

Greenport was an important whaling port from 1795 to 1859, as well as an active shipbuilding port. The village was for a long time an active fishing area, particularly famous for its oysters. The Long Island Rail Road arrived in 1844. In the early 1900s, with the decline of oyster farming, Greenport turned to tourism. Maybe his bravery is a holdover from his bootlegging days during Prohibition. Greenport is still known for boating, fishing and boating.

By the 1990s Greenport had become a bit “rough around the edges”, neglected by tourists, with a few empty storefronts. Today, Greenport is a bustling destination, with 11 hotels/motels, three bed and breakfasts and two campgrounds. The village has many restaurants offering local seafood and wine. Art galleries enliven the village. The historic district has been defined and revived, with many 19th century wooden houses and storefronts renovated to reveal their original beauty. The historic core dates from the 18th century.

Greenport’s revival was driven by the influx of artists and art galleries. The village hosts the First Friday Gallery Walks from June to December. Art galleries open their doors and colorful works of art line the streets.

Tick ​​Tock Hole 11 at Drossos Motel Greenport Miniature Golf Course
Tick ​​Tock Hole 11, Photo: Courtesy Drossos Motel

There are plenty of activities for kids – and the kid in all of us. In addition to the carousel and boat watching at Mitchell Park, there’s miniature golf and ice cream (Drossos Motel – Tick Tock Miniature Golf, 631-477-1334) and a movie theater on Front Street.

Greenport has long been one of the most diverse villages in the North Fork. It has a long-established black community and immigrants come from Guatemala, Colombia, Greece and Mexico. The village has seven different places of worship within its small perimeter. This vibrant diversity adds to the welcoming feeling of the village.

Cathy Demeroto says, “Greenport is a beautiful and unique community highlighted by the diversity of its residents. This makes Greenport a wonderful and welcoming place to live, work and play.

Greenport celebrates its maritime past with the popular Maritime Festival each September. A Land and Sea cocktail kicks off the weekend of parades, classic wooden boats, kayak races, wood carving and food vendors. The event is organized by the East End Seaport Museum (eastendseaport.org).

Shellabration is a promenade restaurant of local shellfish, wine and beer in early December (shellabration.li).

Like all of the North Fork, the area’s natural beauty is part of Greenport. Inlet Pond County Park and Arshamomaque Preserve offer bird watching and hiking. Cycling is popular on the roads around the village.

As part of Southold Town, residents of Greenport are served by several community organizations, including Southold Town Senior Services (631-298-4460) and CAST (Community Action Southold Town, 631-477-1717). CAST – whose motto is “Neighbors Helping Neighbours” – seeks to build a thriving community where every member is free to care about basic necessities and able to build a better future for themselves and their families.

Cathy Demoroto, executive director, notes that the rising cost of living has hurt local workers. “Many of our customers are the backbone of the local economy, often working in low-wage jobs that support the agriculture, hospitality and tourism industries.”

The generosity of the local community has been particularly evident during the pandemic. Demeroto notes that many people and businesses have offered to volunteer and provide meals and financial support.

CAST has an ongoing school supply campaign, for donors interested in helping to make Greenport an even better place to live.

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