Category Archives: Mapping Gowanus

Mapping Gowanus: Sackett st. b/w Bond & the Canal

Homage to crud

On my way to Sackett St. between Bond and the Gowanus Canal, I may have passed a dozen construction sites, where luxury housing is slated to fill any and every crevice of my hyper-gentrifying neighborhood, Cobble Hill. Gowanus, too, is now home to luxury “waterfront” properties situated on the Canal, which is, never mind, a highly polluted, odiferous Superfund site. The block I was mapping is a piece of pre-gentrified Brooklyn that will no doubt soon be another astronomically expensive enclave, after all there are some large empty lots on this block that simply cannot survive the low interest, cheap money that is fueling the latest frenzy of development.

There was evidence of impending change – a surveyor was there, and a construction site sign that warned visitors not to enter. Nothing was actually getting built, and the block was quiet, save for a few stragglers like myself. I felt like I was documenting some last remains of industry, poverty, detritus, vandalism, and even art.

I was touched by the deconstructed air conditioners that had been slaughtered for their copper, the residue of a meal, a puddle of broken glass, cracked sidewalks, patched cobblestone, a shredded plastic bag, graffiti (even a pathetic “Trump” stencil), and all the crud that left traces of transient activity – a few Bud Lights, an abandoned work glove, a no parking sign for a film shoot called “Cyclops” that I’m guessing was a flop. The block reminds me of the kinds of decayed places I sought out in my teens to kick around and smoke cigarettes or get high. I will miss this block when it becomes sanitized by the encroaching money, eager to smooth out its edges and discard the trash.

Joan Grossman, Feb. 28, 2017

     

 

 

Save

Save

Mapping Gowanus: 3rd ave. b/w 7th & 8th streets

This entry of Mapping Gowanus comes from writer Michael Slade.

A Tree Grows in Gowanus

On Third Avenue between Seventh and Eighth Streets in Gowanus stands a magnificent tree.  It’s particularly striking because, aside from a few scraggly, almost unnoticeable little cousins, there are no other trees as far as one can see in either direction up and down the avenue.  If a tree could choose where it was to spend its life, my guess is that a busy avenue across the street from auto mechanics and beer distributors would not be at the top of its list.  And yet, here this tree proudly stands.  And because it stands alone, it compels passersby to notice it in a way its relatives in Prospect Park cannot.  And as it does, this tree seems to declaim to resident and visitor alike , “I was here to see what Gowanus was, and I’m here to see what Gowanus is, and I will be here to see what Gowanus will be… because I am rooted here, and I’m not going anywhere.“
SladeTree

Mapping Gowanus: 16th st. b/w 3rd ave. & Hamilton

This entry of Mapping Gowanus is by Henry Tenney.

Ode to 16th Street (bet. 3rd Avenue and Hamilton)

Sorry little strip
More on-ramp than road
Does the sun ever kiss your oil-stained stroll?
Do you ever feel the footfalls of one not lost? One not frantic for the handheld
deliverance of GPS?

A rust-and-macadam behemoth mocks you from above, ferrying thousands.
Home, to a show, to anywhere else.
While you, ungainly, squat below.
Unnoticed. Unloved. Barely mappable.

Do you care when every now and then SUVs packed with Park Slope’s soccer
promise gasp and cluck their tongues when unintended, they ply your weary lane?

Do you even exist in the dreams of children now that your once-proud giant
inflatable blue gorilla no longer sits above to announce your presence?

Yet across eight lanes lies hope.
Well actually across eight lanes (with barbed wire betwixt) lies the waste transfer
station, but across eight lanes and the canal lies hope — in rosy Red Hook.
But the promise of Fairway is a cruel left turn, with all heads turned away from you.

You will never house a cold-brew coffee shop with terrific scones, 16th Street.

The cars will just keep whizzing and honking past you, just out of reach.
A river of cars, oblivious to your hidden charms.

But some day they’ll know!
If they’re in the market for a rolling steel garage door, say, or are thinking about
trying their luck at the weekly seized auto auction.

Some day they’ll know.

—————————————————

Henry Tenney sings in several actual bands (Highland Shatners, The Cheese Beads, Sea of Scarves, Dondi’s Bloody Sputum), a few imaginary ones (The Stupid Locks, The Heinous Codpiece Experience [as Hamish Codpiece]) and has a TV food thingy called Burnt Is the New Al Dente.

Mapping Gowanus: Nevins b/w Union & Sackett

This entry of Mapping Gowanus comes from neighbors and architects Alexandra Burr and Allen Slamic.

This block is home to the former National Packing Box Factory, a large brick building built in 1910 with remnants of the old signage still on the facade. We drew our inspiration from this building and a few distinct elements. There is an amazing series of fire escapes, bridges and a floating corrugated metal box suspended between this building and another in an alley. There is also a series of beautiful yellow doors leading to Cabinet, the arts and culture magazine headquarters. And lastly, lining the permitter of the building are wooden planters filled with well maintained plants. With these components as inspiration we crafted a yellow planter box, made from folded paper like a small little package, placed it on two wooden dowels so it hovers above the ground and filled it with dirt and a small succulent. We then brought it over to the alley and placed it next to the components we found inspiring. We documented this exercise and have turned the photos into a short animation.