Photos by Paul Frangipane
The neighborhood of Gowanus is centered on the Gowanus Canal, a two-mile-long artificial waterway that weaves throughout the area and made Gowanus a hub of industry in the late 19th century.
Since its industrial boom, the Gowanus Canal had become heavily polluted by a combination of industrial pollutants and runoff from storm water and the sewage system that left some areas of the canal covered in a colorful film and emitting strong odors of gasoline.
Local groups advocate for the canal’s cleanup, like the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, which encourages recreational use of the waterway and its edges to help influence its health.
The Dredgers hit the water from a dock on Second Street and paddle out to Gowanus Bay, offering free tours and canoe rides for those curious about the canal.
With the Gowanus Canal’s edges still covered in industry, Christian Robertson applies a protective coating onto an all-aluminum art piece outside Serett Metalworks on the water’s edge.
Robertson applies the protective coating into each crevice of the piece with a small paintbrush to protect it from rust.
Sections of Gowanus’ low-rise buildings stand between the neighborhood’s industrial presences.
The Third Street Bridge in front of a new condominium complex on the canal waterfront.
Often referred to as the “canal of bridges,” the Gowanus Canal boasts old-time connectors like the wooden Carroll Street Bridge that now stands and still operates as a historic landmark.
A memorial on the water’s edge reminds residents and passersby of Gowanus’ history in the Revolutionary War, being the spot of a major battle site.
“Welcome to Venice Jerko,” is painted onto a brick wall along the canal, referring to City Council members saying rezoning in the area could turn it into a Venice.
Gowanus’ Third Avenue boasts lines of restaurants and bars.
The Gowanus Souvenir Shop pays homage to the history of the neighborhood offering souvenirs revolving around the canal.
Brooklyn Boulders operates out of an old New York Daily News parking garage on DeGraw Street. The rock climbing studio joins a host of recreational activities in the neighborhood that include fencing, axe throwing and shuffle board.
The Smith Street and Ninth Street F/G subway station is seen from many angles in the industrial neighborhood. Soaring over the Gowanus Canal, the train reaches the highest point on the New York City Subway.
Gowanus’ industry and residential blocks fall in front of a backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.