Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunset at Gowanus Bay

At the top of this blog page is an image of the painting, "Sunset at Gowanus Bay" by Henry Gritten (1851). Born in London in 1818, Henry Gritten was living in Brooklyn, New York by 1850. He also painted in New Hampshire and in 1853 went to Australia. A biography can be found at the White Mountain Art and Artists website.
Sometime during the 1650s Adam Brouwer built, what is believed to be, the first grist mill in New York at Gowanus (on land owned by Jan Evertsz Bout, and likely financed by his partner, Isaac de Foreest). In about 1700 Nicholas Vechte, who owned property adjoining the mill property, built a house of stone that is referred to as the Old Stone House, which was destroyed in 1897 and rebuilt in the 1930s.
In 1664, Adam Brouwer and others, petitioned Petrus Stuyvesant, Director-General of New Netherland, for permission to build a canal at Gowanus. During the centuries since, the canal has been enlarged, deepened and expanded into a commercial waterway connected to the Upper New York Bay. It also became the site of tremendous industrial growth and was home to a wide variety of businesses from mills and tanneries to cement and chemical plants. During Adam Brouwer's time the Gowanus Bay area was known for it fertile oyster beds, described as "the best in the country," by Jasper Danckaerts in his 1679/80 journal of his travels in New Netherland. By the mid twentieth century the Gowanus canal was an environmental nightmare and in 2010 was placed on the Superfund National Priorities list by the EPA.
Also see "On the Water Front," New York Times, October 21, 2009

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