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A Local's Guide to Gowanus, NYC's Neighborhood of the Year

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The People's Guide is a new series examining New York City's many, many neighborhoods, led by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone. This time around, we welcome Jason Sahler, a four-year resident of Gowanus and founder of Strong Rope Brewery, who recently opened a taproom in the neighborhood.

Curbed readers recently named Gowanus as New York City's neighborhood of the year in the 2015 Curbed Cup. To get more intel on the Brooklyn neighborhood, we tapped (get it?!?) Jason Sahler, the founder of Strong Rope Brewery (which recently debuted a taproom in the area), to give us the low-down on the good and not-so-good about the area.

Tell us something we don't know about Gowanus.
The people here are amazing and the most friendly bunch, both the neighbors and the businesses. Come for whatever reason you want, but stay for the people. Strike up a conversation and meet someone new.

Are there any local customs of note?
It's a new one (and a bit of self-promotion), but hit up the little brewery trail that is growing in the area. Other Half Brewing, Threes Brewing, and Strong Rope Brewery are all within walking distance of one another and a great way to spend the day.

What are some hidden gems in Gowanus?
Get the chocolate-almond croissant at Runner and Stone. Best. Pastry. Ever. So rich and delicious.

What's a beloved neighborhood joint?
It all depends on what you are looking for. Canal Bar and Givers & Takers, both right on Third Avenue, are great neighborhood joints.

Best park?
The main park in the area is the Thomas Greene Park and Playground, but the whole [area around the] canal is slowly being turned into a park in the next handful of years, so there is that to look forward to.

What's your local transit like?
Gowanus is wrapped by the F and G to the west and the south, with the R to the east. Pretty easy to get here and walk anywhere in a short amount of time.

Inflate the bubble or burst it: What's not-so-swell about your neighborhood?
The Canal is still a Superfund site. It's in the process of being cleaned up, but its quite nasty and can be pretty funky in the summer.

What's the neighborhood housing stock like?
It's limited right now but growing quickly with new (and somewhat obtrusive) giant condos shooting up, like much of Brooklyn. With all the new businesses (Strong Rope Brewery included) it is bound to keep heading in that direction, for better or worse.

Better for buyers or renters?
It's getting tougher for both as the neighborhood becomes more popular.

Stereotypical residents?
Grizzled artists, craftspeople, and old-school residents keeping the neighborhood gritty.

Most common sight?
The oil slicks on the canal.

The final word on Gowanus:
It's a great neighborhood with a ton of things to do. Sometimes you need to search them out a bit and explore, but that is the whole fun of living in a city like Brooklyn.