Once a marsh and creek, Gowanus was named for a local Native American chief, and became Dutch farmland before seeing battle in the Revolutionary War. The area’s namesake canal was built between 1849 and 1869, widening the existing Gowanus Creek to help Brooklyn compete with the City of New York, still a separate entity at the time. Industry boomed, and cleanup from the effects on the local waterways is almost complete, ushering in a new era of development.
The charm of Gowanus doesn’t present itself immediately; much of the area is still light manufacturing. But wander the streets and you’ll discover beautiful, carefully curated businesses and residences alike.Artists have dominated this area in recent decades, drawn by inexpensive rent and the strange allure of the Gowanus Canal. While cleanup of the canal is well underway (and developers have taken note), an intimate feel and sense of frontier living are still palpable.
Look at a map and you’ll note its proximity to famously subway-free Red Hook. But with the F, G and R trains running through Gowanus, it’s easy to get around. Plus, Atlantic Terminal is only a short distance away. The feel of this area can change from block to block, with older multi-family homes, newly renovated townhouses and exceptionally stylish new condos all available.
The Whole Foods may be convenient, but it’s the independent businesses that will capture your heart. Community favorites include a number of welcoming breweries and Ample Hills Creamery, named for a poem by Brooklyn resident Walt Whitman.