Photo Portrait of a New York City Brownfield: The Batcave

The proposed site for “Gowanus Village,” which was accepted into the State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program in 2004.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg put together PlaNYC in 2007, he made brownfields one of the three overarching themes of his land use initiatives. But what is a brownfield, and what can brownfields do to help make New York a “greener” city?

A brownfield is an abandoned or underused industrial site available to be used or developed. Often, contamination from a previous use has left these buildings and properties polluted. “Brownfield” is a bit of a misnomer: these sites range from old auto body shops and pharmaceutical plants to factories and generating stations. In Brooklyn, dozens of these site dot the neighborhoods, particularly areas along the waterfront once home to heavy industry.

The following slide show is a portrait of the “life” of one brownfield, which in 2004 was included in the New York State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. The property, now called “Gowanus Village,” is a 2.4 acre site along Brooklyn’s notorious Gowanus Canal. The towering brick building on the property was once a power plant owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Over the past two decades, it became a favorite spot for graffiti writers and squatters, who called it “the Bat Cave.” This is the story of industry, development and growth through one building, on one brownfield, in New York City.

Click on the thumbnail to view slideshow

Click on the thumbnail to view the slide show.

You can find a map of with details of the city’s brownfield sites at Habit Map.

This post was written by:

Lisa Riordan Seville - who has written 16 posts on Explain The Plan.

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Photos on flickr