Posts Tagged ‘Gowanus Canal’

Gowanus Bay like you’ve never seen it before

April 21, 2017

Could these two paintings really be of Brooklyn’s Gowanus Bay — namesake of the canal that was once a notoriously polluted mob dumping ground snaking through Red Hook and Carroll Gardens?

Hard to believe, but the waterfront — and the creek that became the canal — was once this bucolic and beautiful. The first painting, “Sunset at Gowanus Bay,” dates to 1851. It’s by an Australian painter named Henry Gritten, who lived in Brooklyn in the 1850s.

At the time Gritten painted this, Gowanus Creek was being widened and deepened, according to The new Gowanus Canal, as it would be named, was supposed to attract industry and compete with New York.

In 1887, long after the canal had been built out, William Merritt Chase did his own take on Gowanus Bay.

I wish I knew where his vantage point was when he painted this beachy scene with a pier, small boats, gentle waves, and not much industry along the waterfront. The Bay looks absolutely swim-able.

The small business owners of old New York

October 6, 2008

Glance at many of the 19th and early 20th century buildings lining city streets, and you might see a man’s name inscribed on top—like on this 1881 structure at 630 and 632 Hudson Street in the West Village. It’s named for Hugh King, a produce merchant.

On Sixth Avenue in Chelsea is the former Bazaar Francais, a French housewares store operated by Charles R. Ruegger.

Who was Geo F. Driscoll, whose name graces this building in Carroll Gardens? It’s a mystery.


James H. Dykeman’s box factory occupied this building on Union Street in Carroll Gardens. Dykeman “was a carpenter by trade who established himself in the box business in 1877,” according to The Disston Crucible, a Magazine for Millmen

“Two large buildings occupy the whole block at Union, Nevins, and Sackett Streets, the fourth side of the property facing the canal, making it possible to bring lumber to the mill very economically,” the article states.