Today I had the great pleasure of taking a tour of the Gowanus Canal with fellow GANYC member, Andrea Coyle. It has really come a long way! Gowanus Canal aka “Lavender Lake” used to be synonymous with contamination and bad smells. Okay, so you still get a whiff here and there…but wow! How it has changed!
After a 1 and ½ hour trip from Riverdale to Gowanus via the A train, I arrived at Union St and kept walking to Butler Ave where I met up with the group at Wafels and Dinges. You may know their trucks that turn out the tastiest Belgian waffles. They were topped with Spekuloos – a creamy cookie butter, reminiscent of gingerbread.
During the tour we checked out an amazing variety of venues:
Brooklyn Brine – great variety of artisanal pickles – cucumbers, sauerkraut and other veggies. They even make pickles using local beer. There’s also a restaurant – the Pickle Shack that serves all the delicious pickles and more.
The E-waste “re use” store – 469 President St.- a huge warehouse where you can bring your electronics to be recycled. They are composting and producing potting soil. They even have a “prop area” where you’ll find old TVs, telephones, radios and computers that can be rented for photo shoots, TV or theatrical productions.
Ample Hills Creamery – 305 Nevins Ave (The name comes from Walt Whitman’s classic poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”) There’s a wonderful rooftop space. We watched them make “peppermint cream” for their peppermint pattie ice cream. The flavors are fun and include such names as “It came from Gowanus,” evoking the deep and murky Gowanus Canal. The name is fitting for dark chocolate ice cream with brownie bits, Grand Marnier, Guittard chocolates, hazelnut paste and white chocolate. 24 flavors are available and they rotate from season to season.
Down the street and through an alley is Proteus Gowanus – 543 Union St. Named for the Greek
sea god of change and the adjacent Gowanus Canal, it is an interdisciplinary gallery and reading room. Each year they select a “Theme of the Year” and this year’s is commerce including a “coin maker” collage made out of dollar bills and “designer” currency.
The next stop was the quirkiest of all- The Royal Palm Shuffleboard Club – 514 Union St. It’s an enormous warehouse that has been converted into a bar and shuffleboard club. On Mondays and Tuesdays, you can join a league and play a game who may have played with your grandparents. Almost 600 people compete. Food trucks are brought in and offer an ever-changing menu. It really is quite amazing.
We back tracked and went to Film Biz Recycling – 540 President St. This non profit is “dedicated to creating opportunities by reducing waste in the NYC entertainment industry.” Props, clothing, lighting and all sorts of “stuff” that has appeared in photo shoots, TV shows, Broadway productions etc are available for sale and/or rental.
You may recognize something you saw on a TV set but you won’t be able to confirm it since Film Biz signs a non-disclosure clause and cannot reveal the source.
Our final stop was Twig – 287 3rd Ave- a “terrarium emporium” that brings miniature landscapes into your home. They started at the Brooklyn Flea and have built a tree in the middle of this charming shop.
All good things must come to an end so we made our way to Whole Foods to have a bite and raise a glass to our fabulous guide for a wonderfully enjoyable day.
Ever explored the Gowanus Canal? Tell us about it in the Comments!
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