Gowanus is situated roughly between Red Hook and Carroll Gardens on the west and Park Slope on the east. Bounded by Butler Street to the north, the neighborhood runs alongside and surrounds the Gowanus Canal, ending with the Gowanus Expressway to the south where Hamilton Ave meets 17th street. Smith and and Bond Street are generally considered the western boundaries, with Third Avenue as the eastern boundary.
The Gowanus area has been an active center of industrial and shipping activity since the 1860's. It is zoned for light to mid-level manufacturing (M1, M2, and M3). The majority or residents live in two NYCHA housing projects, Wyckoff Gardens and Gowanus Houses. Residental zoning is also found near the eastern and western borders. These areas consist of mostly frame housing, built prior to constructing the canal in 1860, in contrast to the brownstone homes found in neighboring Park Slope that were built from the building materials shipped in along the constructed canal. The residents of Gowanus are proud of their neighborhood and its name.
Gowanus, one of the few remaining manufacturing neighborhoods in Brooklyn, is having an industrial renaissance as it re-attracts new small manufacturing businesses, many owned by individuals who live in the adjoining residential neighborhoods and walk or bike to work. Demand for light-industrial space in Gowanus is on the rise as manufacturing districts in many other parts of the city are in the process of re-zoning or have already been re-zoned for residential use which left inumberal businesses and individuals seeking available and affordable workspace elsewhere.