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Fringeville

An alt-culture district hits critical mass.

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Illustration by Jason Lee  

It may not yet resemble early-aught Williamsburg (a.k.a. Berliniamsburg), but Gowanus has unmistakably become Brooklyn’s newest culture cluster. Anchored by a few large factory buildings that together house upward of 300 artist studios, the place is now home to indie-music venues, bookstores, even a robot collective—all within a few blocks of the sometimes-putrid-smelling Gowanus Canal.



1. 543 Union Street
There are about 30 studios in this artist-owned warehouse. Several cultural spaces open to the public have arrived recently, including the gallery Proteus Gowanus and the offices of Cabinet magazine, which hosts lectures and has plans for a Venice-inspired “Gowanus Biennial.” (Gondolas included.)

2. Old American Can Factory
232 3rd St.
With over 200 tenants, this massive building hosts a slew of cultural tenants, including publishing houses (Akashic Books, Archipelago Books, and the Ugly Duckling Presse), musicians (Martin Bisi), fashion designers (Vena Cava), and artists (Christian Marclay). Plus frequent concerts in the courtyard and Rooftop Films in the summer.


3. Littlefield
622 Degraw St.
Modeled after a club overlooking a canal in Oslo, Littlefield will open early this month with film screenings, music concerts, and a bar with a cocktail list courtesy of WD-50’s bar manager, Tona Palomino.

4. Ultraviolet
424A Third Ave.
Turan Kiremitci of the legendary, now-defunct East Village after-hours spot Save the Robots has converted a former luncheonette into an intimate, tri-level lounge set to open early next year. He plans to bring some of his D.J. friends to the space, but promises to close relatively early—“maybe even sometimes at 2 a.m.”


5. The Gowanus Studio Space
119 8th St.
More than just a rent-a-studio, this 4,800-square-foot space houses 30-plus artists and regularly hosts exhibits, workshops, and magazine parties (online journal Triple Canopy held their spring launch party here).

6. LEMUR
461 Third Ave.
This music-making robot collective, a.k.a. the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots, offers classes like “Fun With Fiberglass” and hosts installations from their artist-residency program.

7. Bell House
149 7th St.
The team behind Union Hall and Floyd opened the 8,700-square-foot venue in September as a place to accommodate some of the more popular bands they were booking (Vampire Weekend, White Rabbits, etc.). The building has massive chandeliers and 25-foot arched ceilings and, outside, frequent appearances by the Red Hook ball-field vendors.


8. PictureBox Departmental Store
121 3rd St.
Opened this spring by art-book publisher PictureBox, this venue specializes in hard-to-find artist editions, books, ’zines, prints, comics, and curated curiosities. Comic artist Garry Panter created the window drawings.


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