10. Five Gowanus Buildings Were All Landmarked Together in 2019

ASPCA Building

In 2019, five Gowanus buildings were all landmarked by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The decision came after years of advocacy from local preservationists. The Batcave was perhaps the most notable on the list, though the landmarked Gowanus Canal Flushing Tunnel Pumping Station and GateHouse also has a fascinating history. The structure was built between 1909 and 1911 to help flush pollutants out of the Canal via a large propeller following several failed sewer projects. The brick and limestone building would pump water until the 1960s, when the propeller failed, after which it remained dormant until 1999. Completed a year earlier, the Montauk Paint Manufacturing Company Building was erected in 1908 and occupied by its namesake company, as well as the Dessau Cork Company and Diamond Decorative Leaf Company. The American Round Arch-style building, which has remained mostly intact, was a manufacturing hub for all sorts of paints, varnishes, and blacking.

Another historic building, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Brooklyn Office, Shelter, and Garage, was built in 1913 and expanded in 1922. The ASPCA, the nation’s first anti-cruelty organization, was founded in New York in 1866, and at the time, the building was the largest animal shelter in the country. The Neo-Romanesque building housed thousands of pets over the years while the building served as a shelter. The last landmarked building is the Somers Brothers Tin Box Factory, dated to around 1886, which employed over 150 people and used oil from the canal to power the factory. For a larger list of historic Gowanus properties, check out Six to Celebrate’s list.

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