"Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future?" Jacqueline Kennedy

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gowanus Activists Holding Press Conference Today To Call For Landmarks Designation For Key Neighborhood Structures Ahead Of Proposed Rezoning

Gowanus Flushing Tunnel Pumphouse
ASPCA Memorial Building and horse trough 
 Eureka Garage
American Can Building 

A coalition, which includes Friend and Residents of Greater Gowanus (FROGG), Historic Districts Council, Old Stone House, Park Slope Civic Council, CG CORD (Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development), as well as many Gowanus residents, will be holding a press conference this morning at 9:30 am on the Union Street Bridge to advocate for the landmarking of specific historic buildings that add significantly to the character of the neighborhood.
The hope of the coalition is to draw attention to these structures ahead of the proposed rezoning of the Gowanus Canal corridor, which is being pushed forward by Council Members Stephen Levin and Brad Landers, and by real estate speculators, who want to open the mostly industrial neighborhood to more residential development.

Here is the Coalition's press release and a list of structures that its members would like to see landmarked, before it is to late to save them.

Press Conference Slated for May 22, 2018 

GOWANUS - With rezoning imminent, a coalition of Gowanus-area individuals and
organizations announced a press conference calling for landmarking of key historical and
architectural structures in the vicinity of the Gowanus Canal.
Rezoning plans may be announced for Gowanus any day now,” said Linda Mariano of Friends
and Residents of Greater Gowanus (FROGG), “and while this coalition proposed a group of
landmarks last summer during the Gowanus Places Study, it’s more important than ever to
reiterate our call. Without landmark protection, our neighborhood is vulnerable to losing its
most defining features.”

The Coalition’s “Coffee and a Press Conference” is slated for Tuesday, May 22 at 9:30 a.m. at
the door to the Union Street Bridge operator’s house. The full list of proposed Gowanus
landmarks will be handed out at the press conference.
Citywide, we’ve seen that it’s critically important for neighborhoods to stand up for what’s
important to them before rezoning arrives
,” said Kelly Carroll of Historic Districts Council. “East
New York is a perfect example. Designating the proposed Gowanus landmarks at the city level
will ensure that Gowanus does not become ‘just another place’ as rampant development
moves in.”

Numerous residents who have filed requests for evaluation of potential landmarks in Gowanus
have been informed that the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is currently conducting
a study of potential landmarks in the area.

It’s encouraging to hear that a survey is underway,” said Peter Bray of the Park Slope Civic
Council, “But we have not heard encouraging things about how many landmarks the survey is
likely to turn up. We hope the LPC will take a real, meaningful look at the sites this Coalition is
proposing for designation - and recognize the multi-faceted industrial history of Gowanus.

Many of the buildings on the Coalition’s list were deemed eligible for inclusion in a national
register historic district. The sites range from the neighborhood’s flushing tunnel pumphouse
to the former Brooklyn offices of the ASPCA - and the well-known “Bat Cave” building that was
once home to the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Powerhouse.

Gowanus is really unique - and so is this list of proposed landmarks,” said Kim Maier, Executive

Director of the Old Stone House. “The neighborhood has very few officially-designated
landmarks at present, and designating these additional structures allows the neighborhood to
keep telling its stories well into the future

The Coalition specifically seeks designation of more than a token few individual landmarks as
re-zoning looms.
Rezoning tends to induce a major set of changes in an historic neighborhood,” said Gowanus
resident Brad Vogel, “and landmarking more than a few token buildings in Gowanus is
necessary to keep those changes from having a ‘scorched earth’ feel that leaves the
neighborhood feeling entirely unfamiliar.”

Coalition members include but are not limited to: Friend and Residents of Greater Gowanus
(FROGG), Historic Districts Council, Old Stone House, Park Slope Civic Council, CG CORD (Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development)

A sampling of some of the proposed Gowanus landmarks (full list available at press conference):
- Gowanus Flushing Tunnel Pumphouse (1905 - 1911)
- ASPCA Memorial Building and horse trough (1913, later additions 1922)
- American Can Building (Somers Brothers Tin Box Factory) (chiefly 1886)
- S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse (1880s)
- Union Street Bridge operator’s house (mid 20th Century)
- Eureka Garage (1923)
- Belgian Block street-ends abutting Gowanus Canal (late 19th Century)
- T. H. Roulston Inc. buildings (c. 1910)

Here are a few photos of today's press event on the Union Street Bridge taken by Gowanus resident “The Gas Drip Bard.” Thanks for sharing, Bard!

1 comment:

FROGG Gowanus said...

And after the group cleared out of that landing space at the bridge, next to the Bridge Keeper's Building, a group of very young school children and teachers moved in to take over the spot with paper to draw on and their snack boxes in tow. They all settled in sitting cross legged enjoying those snacks just as much as we did our morning coffee and cookies hours earlier.

It is wonderful how so many groups and people make good use of the public Open Spaces on the Gowanus Bridges and Street Ends!