Love that dirty water: The Gowanus Canal’s Third Street Bridge

Eye On Real Estate: Exterior restoration appears nearly complete at the neighboring Coignet Building

March 23, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This is the Third Street Bridge, with Lightstone Group's new apartment building behind it and the World Trade Center in the distance at left. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

Tainted Love.

That song by Soft Cell could serve as the sound track for a visit to the Gowanus Canal.

Just about everybody in Brooklyn is enamored of the dangerously dirty waterway, and rightfully so.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Yes, yes, we know — it’s so famously filthy that it’s a federal Superfund cleanup site. Perversely, that’s part of the canal’s mystique.

If it weren’t so utterly polluted, we wouldn’t get to use expressions like “black mayonnaise” — which is what the ten-foot layer of coal tar, other industrial toxins and sewage at the bottom of the canal is called.

The poisonous waterway that wends its way through Gowanus (the neighborhood), Carroll Gardens and Red Hook down to Gowanus Bay offers vistas that are part urban decay, part upscale development and 100 percent mesmerizing.

And the five bridges that span the Gowanus Canal contribute to its picturesqueness.

The one with the biggest wow factor is, of course, the Carroll Street Bridge, which was built in 1888 and 1889, and is made of wooden planks. It has been an individual city landmark since 1987.


The other bridges are pretty great, too. We just photographed all five of them and some surrounding real estate so you can see for yourselves.

Here’s a look at the one near Gowanus’ Whole Foods, the Third Street Bridge:

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Right this way to Whole Foods — and that lonely little landmark, the Coignet Building.

The Third Street Bridge is located at the edge of the gourmet supermarket’s Gowanus property.

We can’t mention this bridge without giving a shout-out to the nearby Coignet Building, which is the 1870s-vintage white artificial stone commercial building on the corner of Third Street and Third Avenue that’s flanked by two wings of the Whole Foods building.

The Coignet Building’s historically appropriate exterior renovation, which Whole Foods is paying for, looks like it’s close to completion. Glass has been installed in window frames that were empty until recently. An exterior staircase on the Third Street side of the property has been repaired.

The Coignet Building belongs to Richard Kowalski, who sold the land surrounding it to Whole Foods.

On the other side of the Third Street Bridge from Whole Foods’ property, there’s a newly constructed apartment building that’s part of a complex the Lightstone Group is constructing.

Also, when we stand on the bridge, we see a prime piece of urban eye candy — the Batcave.

That’s the nickname by which the former Brooklyn Rapid Transit Power House at 322 Third Ave. is known. The messy but magnificent old building belongs to Joshua Rechnitz, who purchased it through an LLC for $7 million in 2012, city Finance Department records indicate.

The Third Street Bridge, which opened in 1905, is a “double-leaf Scherzer rolling lift bascule,” a fact sheet from the city Department of Transportation says — a description so complicated we despair of defining it.

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