For the past seven years, I’ve happily called the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn home for my New York office. Over that time, there’s been a lot of turnover in the neighborhood. As time passed, we’ve lost a lot of old buildings. They brought a sense of history and uniqueness to the neighborhood. But many have been replaced by new apartment buildings and modern renovations of the “brownstone” concept of buildings.
This week, the Wall Street Journal featured Claro, a Mexican eatery that recently was awarded a Michelin star. It’s located a half block from the office and I often walk by on my way to grab a cup of coffee.
The Changing Vibe of Gowanus
The Wall Street Journal article also featured a short discussion of how the neighborhood has changed recently. One of the people they talked to was Neil Carlson, the co-founder of my office space. Describing Gowanus,
“I have had a front-row seat to a lot of changes in Gowanus,” Mr. Carlson said. “The neighborhood has changed a lot since the opening of Whole Foods. It opened the floodgates to a lot of new investments and developments.”
While he said Gowanus isn’t yet on par with Williamsburg, its mix of commercial, residential, and industrial businesses now makes it a prime target for safe, livable use.
“Twenty or 30 years back, there was a lot of organized crime in the area,” Mr. Carolson said of Gowanus. “Now that there’s more 24/7 activity, I think that makes it feel a bit safer, there’s more foot traffic and there’s more neighbors looking out for each other.”
Neil predates me in Gowanus by 2 years, but I’ve definitely seen the same changes he describes.
Lunch Time in Gowanus
If you find yourself in Gowanus at lunchtime (when Claro isn’t open), turn to the left and walk down a block. Right off the corner of 3rd Avenue and Carroll Street, you’ll find Baba’s Pierogies. Right after my favorite sandwich spot closed, they opened in 2015 and have been my go-to spot for lunch for the past 3+ years. (For a more in-depth history of the restaurant, check out this article from Edible Brooklyn). Whenever I’m hungry for lunch, I saunter over for one of their delicious items. Plus, if you’ve got your little ones in tow, the mac & cheese pierogies are always a hit!
It’s great to see the neighborhood continue to grow and add more culinary gems to our roster. Beyond just our food, the influx of more small businesses has also transformed the neighborhood. The future of the area for small businesses hopefully continues to be bright.