Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gowanus + Women's Wear Daily = Interesting

Gowanus Winter Crop

Women's Wear Daily weighed in a with a long article yesterday about Gowanus that was motivated by some fashion designers setting up shop in the neighborhood. Other than being a curious thing to find in WWD, the article serves as a reminder of how many businesses and artists work in Gowanus and how their fate hangs in the balance of a rezoning of the neighborhood to promote more residential development. Here's a bit of what the very long article had to say by way of introducing the neighborhood:
A glamorous fashion industry hub or heir apparent to the Garment District it is not. And yet this South Brooklyn neighborhood, a sprawling grid of industrial warehouses and factories incongruously situated between the million-dollar brownstones of Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, with the 20-foot-deep Gowanus Canal ribboning through it, is emerging as an artists' — and artisans' — haven in a borough where rent by the square foot continues to skyrocket...

The Gowanus neighborhood, originally a marshland dotted by streams, emerged as a prosperous industrial hub in the mid-nineteenth century following the 1869 construction of the canal, which drained the surrounding area and allowed barges carrying brownstone, grain and metal materials to dock along the water's edge. Industrial buildings — factories for clothing and paint, chemical plants and tanneries — popped up along the canal, while the surrounding neighborhoods of Park Slope and Carroll Gardens were built up by local workers in need of housing. Economically, the area initially flourished, yet environmentally, the canal proved disastrous: Inadequate sewage connections resulted in raw waste being released into the canal for decades. By the Seventies, surrounding buildings and the canal itself sat neglected, the result of lost waterfront business due to increased container shipping to other parts of the city.
Unfortunately, it's a long article and WWD is subscription only. We did note that a Whole Foods spokesperson still says they're "very excited" about opening a store on the property they own at Third Street and Third Avenue. For now, we'll settle for saying that we never expected to read about the Gowanus flushing tunnel in Women's Wear Daily.

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