Commerce & Culture
Where else has shuffleboard courts, a casket factory, and Brooklyn’s first Whole Foods (replete with a rooftop farm)? Gowanus has a raw, laid-back authenticity that feels farther in mind than distance from much of the city, along with the sense of humor prerequisite for a place of persistent urban legends—reiterated by beer labels, ice cream flavors, and comic books alike. Keep a close eye under the drawbridges and you might catch the Gowanus Dredgers, a conservancy-minded canoe club, taking paddlers on guided tours. Lately, the area's abundant loft space has proved magnetic for creative exploits: Gowanus boasts one of the most vibrant artist communities anywhere in New York City, and Gowanus Open Studios, held each fall, welcomes the public to view the work of hundreds who paint, draw, sculpt, and snap here. It’s also a craft beer epicenter, with nearly a half-dozen breweries—and even more taprooms—in just the few square blocks between 3rd and 4th Avenues.