• Photo: Mary Robnett

Gowanus

A former center of industrial and shipping activity and home to the stevedores who worked the waterfront, Gowanus is gaining a reputation for innovative maker spaces, cool bars and restaurants, experimental performance venues, and funky design shops. Bordered by the long-established neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens to the northwest and Park Slope to the northeast, Gowanus and its spacious warehouses, many of which had been abandoned by the 1970s, began attracting artists and creative businesses during that decade, though redevelopment didn't really began to gain momentum until the early 2000s. The large Italian population, here for generations, sets the tone, with newer residents, including many twenty- and thirtysomethings, adding pep and entrepreneurship. Brooklyn Boulders lures a community of rock climbers and gives a West Coast feel to the neighborhood. Make no mistake, Gowanus is still up-and-coming: empty lots and the polluted Gowanus Canal, an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site, present challenges. However, walk along 3rd or 4th Avenue east of the canal and you’ll soon run across a coffee bar, cocktail den, or offbeat shop worth investigating.

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