Mapping Brooklyn’s smelliest neighborhood

Architect creates smell map of Gowanus

TRD New York /
Feb.February 27, 2016 11:00 AM

The Gowanus Canal stinks. In fact, so does the whole neighborhood. Gowanus is so pungent that Brooklyn-based architect Annie Barrett was able to create a map of Gowanus based on its distinctive redolence.

Maps are supposed to be exact, but of course smells are subjective and fleeting and well, not very exact. So to create the map, Barrett and her team broke the smells down into three categories:

1. Negative man-made smells (like garbage or sewage);

2. Pleasing man-made smells (like food or fresh-cut lumber); and

3. Organic smells (plants).

“The biggest pattern is that right around the corridor of the canal, but especially at the south end where you see less change to the manufacturing nature of the neighborhood, you have the biggest collection of negative man-made smells,” Barrett told the New York Post. “When you go to the north, you get more into the newer parts of the neighborhood where there are restaurants, bakeries, pizzerias.”

The Map Won Second Place in a design competition called “Axis Civitas,” organized by the nonprofit group Gowanus By Design.

One of Barrett’s most interesting discoveries was that the most common place to find natural smells was in the neighborhood’s 10 dead end streets.

“You find a lot of wildflowers and grasses that naturally occur in the environment because there is nothing else happening there,” she said. Check out the map below.

[NYP]Christopher Cameron

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