Gowanus, Brooklyn

The Brooklyn community of Gowanus, centered around the Gowanus Canal, is largely made up of historic architecture directly related to the water route. Located between Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, it is considered part of Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront. The canal itself is 2.5 miles long, 100 feet wide, and stretches from Gowanus Bay in New York Harbor to Douglass Street. Unlike other industrial areas of the city, Gowanus was never densely built up, and much open space remains today. The structures that surround the canal are generally six stories or fewer, lending a low-scale, 19th-century character. This area continues to be mixed-use manufacturing with peripheral residential enclaves.

Historically one of New York’s most contaminated waterways, the Gowanus Canal area was designated as a Superfund Site in 2010. To protect the historic character of the neighborhood the local community is currently working to place the Gowanus Canal Corridor on the National Register of Historic Places so that its urban industrial character is preserved.

To learn more about Gowanus click here

Disparate factions unite to ‘take back’ Gowanus from overdevelopment

By Matthew Taub
Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn Brief

What do a self-styled “provocateur,” a mohawked leather jacket punk rocker, a dredger, a cartographer, a cane-wielding rabble rouser, a public housing advocate and a sprinkling of neighborhood homeowners, preservationists, attorneys and industrial workers all have in common?

Council Member Brad Lander has somehow convinced them to band together–against him, and developers interested in the Gowanus canal.

“Lander’s whole process was rigged to create a forced consensus to give the developers a green light to go forward,” said Debbie Stoller, a resident of Gowanus for 11 years. “This meeting is meant to set that straight.”

She was referencing “Take Back Gowanus,” a meeting Wednesday night of local residents frustrated after their City Council member’s recent “Bridging Gowanus” three-part series failed to live up their democratic ideal, despite a claimed intention of fostering community engagement about the future of the neighborhood.

The event was hosted by local resident Joseph Alexiou, whose concerns about the one-sided, pro-development tone and direction of Lander’s meetings–concerns he claimed he addressed to the council member directly–went unanswered.

“I’m grateful to council member Lander,” Alexiou said, “but his process was not democratic, and not inclusive. It was downright misleading. We never had a chance to voice our concerns.”

The “take back” meeting–held at the upscale 501 Union Street venue at Alexiou’s expense–brought forth a range of ideas from local residents.

To Read the Whole Article Click Here

Gowanus State and National Register Listing




Gowanus: National Registry of Historic Places, Eligible Since 2006.
Gowanus: filled with amazing history.
The Listing to National and State Registries, sponsored by FROGG,
will bring economic redevelopment tax incentives to the district
for owners who voluntarily choose to participate in renovation and
redevelopment of properties.
Support of the Historic Registry Listing is to
support the future of Gowanus.

Please contact Mayor Bill de Blasio and tell him to let the State Review Board vote on the Gowanus Canal Historic District.

Tell him to: Please permit the NYS Review Board to vote on the Gowanus Canal Historic District. Listing the area on the National Register of Historic Places will only encourage economic development and investment in the neighborhood. This is a community-driven plan which is business and development friendly, and lifts the community up by acknowledging the Canal’s importance in the development of our city. There are no
new regulations or requirements which will be triggered by this designation, only the possibility of incentives to development.
(you have a maximum of 300 words)

Read the full article on HDCs website here or View the FROG PDF here


19th century|

This former shoe factory is a symbol of triumph for preservation in the neighborhood. A controversial project that would have converted the old factory to condos included an out-of-scale rooftop addition that was found to be an illegal extension and would have had a negative impact on the block and the neighborhood. A Stop Work Order was issued in September of 2006, and the large steel addition has since been removed from the top floor of the historic building. This project led to community demand for a downzoning, and the building currently sits waiting to be appropriately redeveloped.


Brooklyn Department of City Works;
Robert Van Buren, Chief Engineer;

The Carroll Street Bridge, a New York City individual landmark, is one of four of the oldest retractile bridges in the United States. It continues to operate today essentially as it did when it first opened. The bridge rolls horizontally on wheels on steel tracks to allow shipping to pass. The bridge is drawn in and out by cables from the engine or operator’s house on the west side of the canal and opens a 36-footwide channel in the canal. There is an original Belgian block approach, and the bridge is wooden-planked. From the bridge, one can view the wooden cribbing along the banks of the canal. The canal was originally constructed all of timber cribwork laid horizontally, dating from 1866 to 1930.


57–97 2nd Street;

These brick rowhouses contain a high degree of historic integrity, such as original wood cornices, sandstone lintels and sills, and ornate cast-iron gates and fences. This row is especially interesting because the houses rise only two stories, as opposed to the three and a half that is typical of the neighborhood.


4th Street and Hoyt Street;
1904–ca. 1930s|

The earliest company known to have occupied this complex was the Empire City Hygeia Ice Company in 1904. Two years later a six-story building was also constructed, serving the Leonard Michel Brewing Company and containing a brewhouse, ice storage and freezing tanks. By 1939 the entire complex was occupied by the Ebling Brewing Company, but since 1950 the complex has not been affiliated with beer or brewing.



This 4,400-foot-long steel trestle was completed in 1933 to carry the IND subway. The viaduct, which houses the Smith/9th Street subway stop, crosses the Gowanus Canal and, at 87½ feet above the canal, is the city’s tallest. Beneath the viaduct is a beautiful vista looking north along the canal. The shape of the waterway bending north retains that of the 19th-century commercial waterway, and its docks, basins, bulkheads and industrial buildings are still used today.


70–124 9th Street;
ca. 1910|

Thomas Roulston was the son of an Irish immigrant who was a grocery-clerk-turned-owner in Brooklyn. By 1888, Roulston owned three groceries, and this lot was purchased for the construction of a large grocery warehouse. The building served as the central warehouse for the Roulston company, which grew to more than 300 stores in the five boroughs. The building and the business were sold after his death in 1951 by his son. All of the buildings in this complex were built at the same time and are Renaissance Revival in style with corbeled cornices and segmentally arched windows.