Next to the upscale, tidy neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, and Park Slope is the gritty upstart, Gowanus. Its eponymous 1.8 mile long canal is a Superfund site – that's a place so polluted with industrial waste and sewage that only the U.S. government is capable of providing the USD $500 million needed to clean it up. Drinking the water from its canals might just give you dysentery, arsenic poisoning, or worse. During the summer the canal gives off quite a stink.
I know what you're thinking: "Ew." That's a perfectly reasonable reaction, but in the frothy real estate market of New York City a little pollution never stopped anyone and this is the latest hip neighborhood in Brooklyn. As The New York Times said, it may be the "coolest Superfund site".
So while you'll still see warehouses and light industry along the canal itself, all the investment money pouring in has resulted in brand new condos and apartment buildings side-by-side with the historic two- and three-story brick rowhouses.
Along with new housing are the new businesses catering to recent residents. There has been an influx of restaurants, ranging from Mexican to Peruvian to French, Italian, Caribbean, Southern, Thai, Greek, and others. Most of them are affordably priced. For a single neighborhood it also has a lot of breweries: Strong Rope Brewery, Other Half Brewing, and Threes Brewing all call Gowanus home. A number of boutiques, home goods stores, and thrift stores have set up shop as well.
It's not completely gentrified yet, however. While young professionals are moving in and driving up prices, much of its established, blue collar population remains.
Wall Street: 4.3 miles / 15-25 minutes by car / 35 minutes by transit / 30 minutes by bike
Rockefeller Center: 8 miles / 30-60 minutes by car / 45 minutes by transit
Jersey City: 10.5 miles / 30-60 minutes by car / 50-60 minutes by transit
Downtown Brooklyn: 2.1 miles / 15-30 minutes by car / 25 minutes by transit / 15-20 minutes by bike