Gowanus, Brooklyn

Coordinates: 40°40′31″N 73°59′28″W / 40.6753°N 73.9911°W / 40.6753; -73.9911

The former Power House (locally nicknamed "The Batcave"), currently vacant and owned by Verizon Communications.

Gowanus (/ɡəˈwɑːnəs/ gə-WAH-nəs) is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, within the South Brooklyn area. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 6. Gowanus is bounded by Wyckoff Street on the north, Fourth Avenue on the east, the Gowanus Expressway to the south, and Smith and Hoyt Streets to the west.[1]


View of the house of Simon Aertsen De Hart, still standing on Gowanus Bay in 1867

In 1636, Gowanus Bay was the site of the first settlement by Dutch farmers in what is now Brooklyn.[2] The ponds of Gowanus meadowlands served to drive gristmills of early settlers. During the American Revolutionary War Gowanus was the scene of fighting in the Battle of Long Island.[3] After the Gowanus Canal was built through Gowanus, the area became an industrial center, and the draining of the ponds began in the 1860s. Since then, the area has been a center of industrial and shipping activity. After World War II, the decline of shipping at the port of Red Hook and of manufacturing around New York City prompted large industry to leave and changed the vibrancy of industry in Gowanus.


Carroll Street Bridge

The area is zoned for light to mid-level manufacturing (M1, M2, and M3).[4] Recently, residential developers have been hindered by the industrial zoning and the problems of the sewage overflow through the canal water, but there have been rumors of rezoning by the New York City Department of City Planning.[5]

However, the water and much of the land along the banks of the Gowanus Canal have been severely polluted by combined sewer outflows (CSOs) along the canal designed to relieve sewage and storm water when the sewer treatment plant is overwhelmed, as well as by decades of industrial use and extensive coal gas manufacturing during the late 19th century. The Gowanus Canal was also an alleged Mafia dumping ground.[6] Even so, in the early 1980s, alongside the canal, an old 19th-century munitions factory at 230 3rd Street in Gowanus became the site of the massive Gowanus Memorial Artyard, whose remains are still visible.[7]

Because of millennials and freelancers' jobs, "coworking" spaces were formed in Gowanus in the 2010s.[8] More restaurants, bars, and art galleries moved to the neighborhood, and new real estate became available.[9]

On the New York City Subway, the D N R trains on the BMT Fourth Avenue Line and the F G trains on the IND Culver Line run through Gowanus. Bike routes cross the canal on the Union Street, 3rd Street and 9th Street bridges.[10] The elevated Gowanus Expressway runs through the southern edge of the neighborhood, crossing the canal at Hamilton Avenue. The Carroll Street Bridge, built in 1889, is the oldest of the four remaining retractable bridges in the country.[11]


  1. Jackson, Kenneth T. (1998). Neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Yale University Press. p. 137.
  2. Stiles, Henry R. (1867). A History of the City of Brooklyn. p. 23. Retrieved 2010-07-04.
  3. Lewis, Charles. Cut Off: Colonel Jedediah Huntington's 17th Continental (Conn.) Regiment at the Battle of Long Island August 27, 1776. p. 93.
  4. "Gowanus Canal Corridor Framework". New York City Department of City Planning. Retrieved 2010-07-04.
  5. Kim, Janet (February 18, 2003). "Close-Up on Gowanus". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2010-07-04.
  6. Warshawer, Gabby (January 2, 2007). "Close-Up on Gowanus, Brooklyn". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2010-07-04.
  7. "Once Upon a Time on the Shores of the Gowanus: Frank Shifreen and "The Monument Redefined" Show". October 16, 2007. Retrieved 2010-11-30.
  8. Albrecht, Leslie (12 June 2015). "Co-Working Spaces Booming in Gowanus as More Workers Shun Offices". DNA Info. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  9. Mosendz, Polly (4 April 2014). "NEIGHBORHOOD SECRETS GOWANUS, BROOKLYN: THE INSIDER'S GUIDE TO LIVING THERE". Brick underground. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  10. NYC Department of Transportation. "List of Bicycle Lanes in Roadways". NYC.gov. New York City. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  11. Gray, Christopher (May 21, 1989). "The Carroll Street Bridge; Getting a Landmark in Shape for Its 100th Birthday". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-04.
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