In the last two decades, the Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus has undergone a striking evolution. The industrial fabric along the Gowanus Canal, the polluted Superfund site, has become increasingly juxtaposed with high-rise luxury residential buildings and trendy food, drink and retail businesses. Because this is New York City, this type of urban transformation has come to feel seemingly inevitable. But a group of Gowanus residents and organizations such as the Park Slope Civic Council and Historic Districts Council, has come together to form The Gowanus Landmarking Coalition, which recently launched its new website.
The mission of The Gowanus Landmarking Coalition is to advocate for the landmarking of important historical, architectural and cultural sites in Gowanus, before neighborhood rezoning takes place and to ensure that the neighborhood retains its rich industrial aesthetic, which draws from its lively history as a vital hub for manufacturing and shipping. A public meeting regarding the rezoning plan took place on February 6th, and the clock is now ticking to make sure that no more iconic sights get lost to future demolitions, like the Burns Brothers Coal Pockets building did in 2014.
The Gowanus Landmarking Coalition urges community residents to sign the petition found on its website, in order to protect the neighborhood’s built environment from the City Planning Commission’s rezoning plans. As Kelly Carroll of the Historic Districts Council says, “Gowanus should not be left with a paltry three or four designated landmarks when the rezoning dust settles. Telling the full story of this neighborhood’s industrial and maritime heritage requires more than a dozen sites. Our Coalition priority list is a good start.”
Untapped Cities has worked with the Gowanus Landmarking Coalition to share 10 of the 15 buildings the Coalition is highlighting on its new website, all of which the Coalition believe warrant official designation by the City of New York. Read on to see what’s at stake:
1. The Green Building, 450-460 Union Street, ca. 1948
Less than a block away from the Gowanus Canal, 450-460 Union Street (a.k.a. The Green Building) is an example of the rich industrial history hidden in the neighborhood. Originally the home of the bass foundry Thomas Paulson & Son, The Green Building first began to operate in the 1860s, after the Civil War, and tells the story of Gowanus’ beginnings as a center for manufacturing and shipping.
The Green Building is also an example of an un-landmarked building being saved by the community. In 2002, in the hopes of constructing a luxury residential tower in its place, plans were made to demolish the site, but thanks to pushback from devoted residents, the building was not granted a residential rezoning.
Picture courtesy of The Gowanus Landmarking Coalition
The Green Building is now used as an event space. The building features 6,000 square feet that openly and proudly display the building’s industrial past, with exposed brick walls, open-beamed ceilings and open-air courtyard that allows the sun to shine through floor-to-ceiling glass doors.