Focus on Architecture: Story Behind the Photo

This week’s photo was taken by David Hogarty on the Gowanus Canal canoe tour and was awarded a Judges Award.  The judges were very intrigued by the view (from the canoe!) of the silos, which are in Brooklyn but also looked like they could be in Soviet Russia.

OHNY always provides me with unique perspectives of NYC, and it’s one of the reasons I keep participating. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for years, and always found the Gowanus Canal intriguing–something I’d crane for a better view of when passing over on an elevated train. So an opportunity to see the canal from a canoe was an opportunity I seized.

As one paddles around the bend in the Gowanus Canal into the 4th Street Basin, it’s difficult to miss the cluster of concrete silos between 2nd Avenue and 6th Street. I’d seen them before, but never realized that the structures were perched on concrete stilts. Originally built between 1915 and 1924, the Burns Brothers Coal Pockets were part of the energy infrastructure that employed coal to fuel New York’s industries and heat its homes. Viewing the silos from below was a terrific perspective on a slice of the city’s history that now stands silent, although the canal itself is still an active waterway.


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