Gowanus Porte Road-American Revolution-Map-Atlas of NYC-Historic-Park SlopeLocation of former Gowanus Road from From the Atlas of NYC, 1880. Via NYPL.

In the Park Slope and Gowanus area, the history of the Revolutionary War is well-known – from the recreated Stone House where a decisive part of the Battle of Brooklyn/Long Island took place to the bravery of the Maryland 400, whose final burial grounds are still unconfirmed. In the August 1776 retreat from Brooklyn ,the American soldiers fled West from Prospect Park on the Porte Road downhill towards what was then the Gowanus swamp. Crossing the Gowanus Creek (now the Canal), more casualties were taken.

Today, a portion of these roads where the soldiers traversed is now visible, thanks to construction at 269-271 Fourth Avenue, last reported to be a 12-story condo as revealed by New York Yimby in early 2015. The lot is next to the ODA-designed building 251 1st Avenue that is currently under construction.


Baseball on Ice-Washington Park-Old Stone House-Gowanus Canal-Park Slope-NYC

We all know Brooklyn’s connection to baseball and the Dodgers. But did you know about the sport of ice baseball? Gowanus was the locale for both poularization of both baseball and its winter partner, ice baseball, that originated in Brooklyn. This fun find comes to us from the book Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal by Joseph Alexiou.


Gowanus Canal-Secrets-History-Kayaing-Industrial-Superfund Site-NYC

The Gowanus Canal conjures up many aspects of New York City, from a celebrated Revolutionary War history to a less glorious industrial past that renders itself visible in the superfund site the canal is today. It’s also a site of rebirth, where the emergence of off-the-beaten path art galleries and small manufacturing shops have been followed by an influx of luxury condominiums. It also plays a forgotten but important role in the Prohibition era for bootleggers and was a convenient locale for the activities of the Brooklyn mafia. 

This Thursday at the Museum of the City of New York, writer Joseph Alexiou, author of Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal will join Hannah Frishberg, reporter at Brownstoner, in a conversation about the changing landscape of the Gowanus Canal. Alexious sees the canal and its environs as a microcosm that tells the story of New York City, and explores in the book how the changing reception of the word Gowanus tells us a lot about the transformation that has taken place there since the earliest days of the colony and before. Our list of Gowanus Canal secrets below is derived predominantly from the very entertaining book by Alexiou.

Tickets for the event can be purchased for the talk ($16 for adults, $12 students/seniors) or for talk + book ($40).


Camera Obscura-Vanderbilt Republic-Gowanus Loft-George del Barrio-Brooklyn-NYCPhotos by the Vanderbilt Republic

Gowanus’ Vanderbilt Republic is always up to something new and large scale, like their 2015 lighting of the Smith-9th Street Bridge. Now, they’ve turned their cool loft space into a veritable camera obscura – a modern version of the ancient devices that brought forth the modern camera. This camera obscura turns the whole loft into a dark room, with a hole that allows the outside scene to project (upside down) onto the walls inside. The Smith-9th Street Bridge figures clearly as a recurrent muse for the Vanderbilt Republic, along with the skyline of Gowanus itself, forming incongruous visions atop the loft’s walls, kitchen spaces, doors and more.


The Ides at the Wythe Hotel-Williamsburg-Brooklyn-Best NYC RooftopsPhoto via The Wythe Hotel

Summer, and therefore “roof season” has blasted past, and although the weather remains great long past Labor Day weekend, just when it cools off enough to really enjoy the evenings, many of the rooftop bars close. But many don’t! So while you may not have exhausted our list of best off-the-beaten path rooftops for summer yet, we recently asked Leslie Adatto, author of the book Roof Explorer’s Guide: 101 New York City Rooftopsthe first-ever guide to public access rooftops, to share with us her top 10 for fall.

1. Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook

Brooklyn Crab-Red Hook-Waterfront-Rooftop-Best Rooftops-NYCBrooklyn Crab, photo via Brit & Co.

Brooklyn Crab has great views and great food, and when it’s a bit cooler out, they just roll down the clear plastic “windows.” You can take the Ikea ferry over there so it’s a fabulous day out.

Bowling Green-Tearing Down Statue of King George-New York-Revolutionary War-NYCTearing down the sculpture of King George in Bowling Green (though many details of the scene are off)

Revolution was coming. The American Continental Congress, sensing the inevitability of a break from the British Empire and the ensuing war, had called George Washington, the head of the Continental Army, to come down to New York from Boston. Even though New York’s population of 20,000 was only the seventh largest in the colonies, Washington considered the city of “infinite importance,” as British control of its ports and waterways would “stop the intercourse between the northern and southern colonies, upon which depends the safety of America.”  On April 13, 1776, Washington and his revolutionary army rolled into town.