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A Sketch of Greenpoint's Industrial Past

PencilWorks is a modern coworking space housed in the former headquarters of the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company, which called Greenpoint home for over eight decades.

Exterior of a brick building in Greenpoint Brooklyn

You can hear more Brooklyn stories with Gesso’s self-guided New York audio walking tours, which you can experience at your own pace.

This tale takes root in the 1760s in Stein, Germany, where Kasper Faber refined the art of pencil-making. He passed down the craft through the generations, and in the 1850s, his great-grandson, Eberhard Faber, carried their legacy across the Atlantic to New York. After a devastating fire razed their Manhattan factory in 1872, the Fabers sought refuge in Greenpoint. This sparked the genesis of the historic district along Greenpoint Avenue, its heart beating from the rhythm of the pencil factory.

Faber was undeniably a visionary, but his success story was penned with a touch of controversy. He had a knack for borrowing ideas from competitors, pilfering the use of a circular saw and even appropriating Hymen Lipman's innovative concept of attaching an eraser to a pencil's end—a maneuver that took him all the way to the Supreme Court. Yet, Faber's empire flourished in Greenpoint, eventually crowning him the world's largest pencil producer.

In 1956, a final stroke of irony marked the end of the Pencil Factory's era in Greenpoint as Faber moved their operations to Pennsylvania.

Many more Brooklyn stories and New York City tours await. Discover more local history with our New York audio walking tours, and see which nearby New York City neighborhoods you want to explore next!


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