GOIN’ TO GOWANUS, Brooklyn’s lower Third

Way back in November 2005 I went wandering about the part of Brooklyn that’s not quite Cobble Hill and not quite Park Slope, that was dangerous in the 60s and 70s and just safe enough now, along Third Avenue between Pacific and Union Streets. The area really doesn’t have a name, so I usually call it what it was called in the past: Gowanus, after an Indian tribe or chief. Indeed Mohawk Indians formerly made this neighborhood their home. A stroll along Third Avenue stirs up a lot of ghosts and memories, from the old ballpark where the Brooklyn Superbas, Bridegrooms or Dodgers played (they had a lot of nicknames when they played at Washington Park before Ebbits Field opened) to the office of Edwin Litchfield, the man who dredged the Gowanus Canal, to some of the old places here.

Like much of Brooklyn, this area is poised for a lot of change.

This is in the 1st Street-Carroll Street area on 3rd Avenue. Your guess is as good as mine about why there is a bollard on the sidewalk, the type they use to tie boats on to keep them from floating away. The closest water is Gowanus Canal, which is about a block to the west. Klor-De Drive-In Cleaners, with its old style sign, is nearby.

Citroën, 3rd Avenue near 3rd Street. Likely a repair facility handling parts for the venerable French auto manufacturer, founded in 1919. The Eiffel Tower in Paris served as a billboard for Citroën from 1925-34.

Name that bus! Found it on President Street, with “Proton Program” on the destination roll.

ForgottenFan Brian Deck: The bus on the Goin’ to Gowanus page is a Flxible (unusual spelling, but Flxible is correct). I don’t know what year, but I would guess late 1940’s. I have 2 photos of a similar one I took at the AACA Antique Auto Museum at Hershey PA last July.

Winter In America, a series of pieces by street artists, reportedly inspired by thespoken-word piece by Gil Scott-Heron.

Car on President Street. Maybe that gentrification thing isn’t going along quite as fast as it was supposed to.

The NY Daily News Brooklyn garage, 3rd Avenue between Douglass and DeGraw Streets, was just (2008) purchased by Elo Realty, according to Brownstoner (whose picture of the garage is above left). Bucking the demolition frenzy of late, developer Jack Elo intends to lease it to retail. In any case I hope the facade, with the News’ old camera logo, will remain in place. Like Citroën, the Daily News has been in business since 1919.

ForgottenFan Joseph Raskin: The NY Daily News Brooklyn garage…is now part of a school! (actually three schools–The Brooklyn School of the Arts, MS 447, and the Kalhil Gibran Academy)  It’s attached to the neighboring school building on Dean and Pacific Street, and they use the building for classrooms, the cafeteria, the gymnasium and a few other purposes.

3rd Avenue between Pacific and Dean Streets. This grand 3-story marble-sheathed building is embazoned “The New York Times” in an Olde English blackletter approaching the look of the newspaper’s emblem. It was originally a NY Times printing plant (1929, Albert Kahn), now MS 449.

I enjoy street clocks and this one in fabulous verdigris above the Pacific Street door doesn’t disappoint. Check the two faces below the two supporting figures. Like most Roman-numeraled clocks, “IIII” is substituted for “IV. ” I don’t know the origin of this custom…

Officially, the NYC Board of Education Certificating Unit, built as the Brooklyn Boys’ Boarding School way back in 1840 at 3rd Avenue and State Street when 3rd Avenue was called Powers Street. (The proof is in a chiseled sign on the corner.)

It was in this very building that your webmaster joined the curse that all men inherit and was processed for my working papers at age 16. It was dark, dusty and unsanitary in there, especially in the doctor’s office where I took the cough test. Honestly, it was a dungeon.


Nevins and Butler Streets. This is about a block away from the end, or beginning, depending on what you prefer, of the Gowanus Canal. The East Germany-type concrete block was once a great deal more, ah, embellished…

The former House of Horrors. I’ve had at least two oral surgeries iat One Hanson Place, the Williamsburg Bank Tower, described by some as being the most phallic building in NYC. It was recently beat out for the tallest building in Brooklyn by a nearby residential tower, though not by much.

In any case the dentists have been evicted for the most part, and the building has been renovated for luxury condominiums requiring at least two MegaMillions wins to afford. The four clocks at the building’s apex now tell the same time for the first time in a couple of years (as of January 2008).



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