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Gowanus Apartments


Formerly an industrial shipping center, Gowanus has been described as an "urban utopia," attracting young, artsy residents. Marked by the Gowanus Canal, this developing neighborhood is between Park Slope and Carroll Gardens.

Gowanus was the first part of Brooklyn to be settled by the Dutch in 1636. It is believed that the name Gowanus was derived from Gowane, the leader of the Canarsie tribe from whom the land was purchased.

Gowanus was home to many Italian dockworkers during the height of the shipping industry. The canal initially had a pump to flush dirty shipping water out; however, the pump broke in 1969. For three decades soil, sewage and pollution backed up into the canal, making it one of the country's most contaminated bodies of water and eventually earning it the moniker "Lavender Lake." The toxic canal, which used to be a prime clam-digging spot before the industrial age, was also rumored to be the mafia's dumping grounds.

While Gowanus has been home to artists for a few decades, the area has experienced more growth around the turn of the 21st century, as people begin to see potential in the waterfront community with warehouse spaces and access to public transportation and highways. Most of these new residents are younger artists who are drawn to the neighborhood's beauty and grit.

Gowanus is home to the Carroll Street Bridge, the oldest of four remaining retractable bridges in the United States. Another significant landmark is the remains of the Memorial Artyard.

The atypical neighborhood is also home to some interesting galleries like The Morbid Anatomy Library and Museum, which focuses on taxidermy, even offering classes. Other galleries include the Proteus Gallery, in the former National Packing Box Factory; the Reanimation Library; Bkbx; and a showroom in the Green Building, which showcases emerging artists.

A few interesting buildings in the area include the Old American Can Factory, which is now a renovated studio for art, film and publishing, and the Gowanus Arts Building, which houses dance studios. Groundswell Murals, an organization that paints giant wall murals with at-risk youth, is also headquartered in Gowanus.

Much of Gowanus is being transformed into a model urban oasis. The Batcave, which was a Brooklyn Rapid Transit Powerhouse in the Victorian era, is being converted into studio warehouses. And a new Whole Foods at Third Avenue and Third Street is a major draw for residents throughout South Brooklyn. Other important landmarks include the Bell House, a former printing factory that now serves as a bar with a concert hall in the back, and Littlefield, which hosts album release parties and art displays.

Most recently, the iconic Kentile Floors sign, considered by many to be an unofficial emblem of Brooklyn, is set to come down, despite the protests of many Brooklynites.

Popular neighborhood establishments include the wryly-named Lavender Lake Pub and Monte's Italian Restaurant, rumored to be a favorite of Al Capone and Frank Sinatra. Some new establishments include Littleneck, a refined clam shack, and the Pines, both of which are on upper Third Avenue, an area that is becoming somewhat of a restaurant row.

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