Neighborhood

Gowanus

Nearby: Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook

Gowanus runs from DeGraw Street to the north, Fourth Avenue to the east, Prospect Avenue to the south and the Gowanus Canal to the west.

The Gowanus area has been an active center of industrial and shipping activity since the 1860s. Once a busy waterway and a hub for Brooklyn's maritime and commercial shipping activity, the Gowanus Canal became one of the most polluted sites in New York City.

Gowanus is a primarily industrial neighborhood full of warehouses and manufacturing plants. While most of the buildings have been renovated for residential use, there are still buildings that have not been touched.A few champions of the restoration efforts have called Gowanus the "Venice of New York," alluding to its special mystique and urban charm.

During the past decade or so, the government and private developers have invested money, converting old warehouses and factories into trendy condos, lofts, and townhouses. The EPA's declaration last year of the Gowanus as a Superfund site paved the way for a massive cleanup by the federal government.  Though that will take at least a decade, residents, developers and retailers are flocking to Gowanus, transforming it into one of Brooklyn's up-and-coming neighborhoods.

There are many artists' studios and performance spaces, and during the Artists Walk that is held here every year, the public is allowed to visit hundreds of local artists' studios.

While this area doesn't have the best reputation, it is slowing being revitalized as more trendy stores, restaurants and bars.  Whole Foods plans to open a 56,000-square-foot store on Third Street and Third Avenue in late 2012 that will feature a 20,000-square-foot greenhouse sprouting organic vegetables.

The F, G, and R trains run through Gowanus.  Bike routes cross the canal on the Union Street, 3rd Street and 9th Street bridges.

Other recent arrivals include Lowe’s Home Improvement, Brooklyn Boulders, an indoor rock-climbing center, and Cut Brooklyn, where owner Joel Bukiewicz makes custom knives for professional and home cooks.

Gowanus' rise has an air of inevitability. The neighborhood is the off-price cousin of Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, the affluent areas to the west and east, respectively.