6. The Gowanus Flushing Tunnel Pump House, 209 Douglass Street, 1905-11

The Gowanus Flushing Tunnel Pump House
Picture courtesy of The Gowanus Landmarking Coalition

Located at the end of the Gowanus Canal, the Gowanus Flushing Tunnel, now more than 100 years old, was originally used to flush the canal’s dirty water, polluted by household waste and industrial toxins, out from the canal and into the Buttermilk Channel. By 1999, however, the strategy for cleaning the Gowanus canal was flipped; the tunnel now pumps water from the East River and Buttermilk Channel into the canal, “flushing” the canal with clean water.

Most of the original brick tunnel is still intact today, with a recent restoration which can be seen along the sides of the canal, and the exterior of the pump house remains largely the same, despite the removal and reconstruction of much of the pumping house’s equipment during the 1990s. The brick walls and design of the building’s roof showcase the popular industrial architecture of the early 1900s. It was designated a New York City landmark in 2019.