3. Publicly Interpret Community History
A Genuine Mix of Uses > Recommendations

As mentioned elsewhere in this planning framework, community members and preservation advocates are eager to uncover, understand, interpret and honor the fascinating history of the Gowanus neighborhood. There are a number of upcoming programmatic opportunities where such interpretations could be integrated with other efforts to green and animate public spaces in the community. Through such interpretive tools as special signage and markers, creative approaches to public space and greenscape design, and through artistic efforts, education about the history of the area can be offered to the public.

For example, building upon the neighborhood’s artistic and cultural traditions, stories of the past told visually through graphics, photographs and maps could become a central feature of the design of public open spaces in the community. A permanent “interpretive trail” installation about the area’s history could be a component of this framework’s proposed Gowanus Greenscape and other green space designs. The neighborhood’s active arts, culture and preservation organizations could collaborate to compile research and brainstorm creative ideas for historical interpretation as part of the streetscape of Gowanus. With such iconic and visible historic industrial structures as the BRT Powerhouse and the Douglass Street Pumping Station as anchors, the community’s industrial history could be told in markers, signage, and recordings or texts accessed by smart phones, leading visitors from site to site. Permanent historical installations could be planned as part of new arts studio facilities and community centers. These and many other ideas already generated by community members and organized groups should be resourced so that the history of Gowanus is appropriately highlighted and presented.

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